The last day of the FIFA World Cup group stages produced a multitude of emotions from opposite ends of the scale, especially for teams in Group H.
This section always had promised to deliver competitiveness given the calibre of the sides that were drawn together, remarkably, each being from a different continent.
However, their efforts weren’t enough to advance through to the knockout stages after South Korea managed to engineer a 2-1 win against Portugal in the dying moments of the other game in the group.
The results saw Uruguay and Korea Republic level on points as well as on goal difference, though the Asian side advanced owing to their better goals scored.
This was especially sweet for fans who were keen to remind the world about an old image of Federico Valverde making a controversial “slant eyes” gesture.
The said picture has resurfaced in various social media circles, depicting Valverde celebrating a goal against Portugal during the 2017 U-20 World Cup in South Korea.
Such had been the backlash at the time that Valverde’s hand was forced to come out in defence of himself in an apologetic fashion.
According to the player, the gesture was supposedly a tribute to his friend whose nickname is “El Chino,” which is Spanish for “the Chinese”.
“There was no intention on my part, I was dedicating it to my friend. I would have never done it with that intention, more so considering that this country is treating us very well”, Valverde was quoted as saying back then.
Those in defence of the celebration claim that despite its seemingly insensitive nature, because it wasn’t intended to be derogatory towards any race or ethnicity but as a tribute to a long-time ally of the player, he deserved to be cut some slack.
Furthermore, the said person apparently has had the celebration tattooed, giving an insight into the personal and amicable terms with which the gesture was displayed.
Even so, some have latched on to the fact that the player should have known the ramifications of celebrating in a manner that was bound to have layers of meaning other than the designed purpose attached to it – those that irk the sensibilities of people from the far east nation where the U-20 tournament was held.
Football being the global sport that it is in the 21st century, it is certainly not too much of a stretch that its icons are held accountable for bringing about social reform through their actions that do not conflict with prevalent values such as inclusivity.
According to Twitterati inclined towards the latter point of view, the celebration showed an uninspiring lack of education on the Uruguayan’s part.
Adding to his comments after the celebration back in 2017, the Real Madrid midfielder reflected on the misstep stating, “I’ve been told that it has upset many people, and I apologise if they considered it as such.”
In this light, those willing South Korea to succeed not only found satisfaction in seeing their nation advance at the expense of Valverde’s team, but also in the fact that perhaps a sense of justice had prevailed, and Karma was served to the player in question.