By: R. Lewandowski
In 2015 his hat-trick pushed la Blanquirroja comfortably past its Bolivian adversary, squarely placing the Peruvian national team in the Copa América semis.1 Lima-born, the white-and-red pulsed through his veins as vehemently as ceviche fires across Peruvian palates. He scored twice in three minutes.1 He cradled the ball, and each caress awakened the ball’s fidelity to the land of towering sierra and sprawling selva. His final assault left him one-on-one with the keeper,1 his groins rhythmically pulsing. And reverberations of goooooooooooool filled the sweaty stands.
He is a warrior. In 2012 he scorned the Mayan’s end-of-the-world admonitions with a taste of his nation’s Incan vigor. His goal catapulted the Corinthians to success in the FIFA Club World Cup Final.2 And the Portuguese paid their warrior, their guerreiro, homage. Blood-stained from battle and brandishing the Corinthian flag, Guerrero towered on the cover of Placar magazine in May 2013—marking the first time a Peruvian footballer took center stage in Brazil’s biggest football magazine.3
He is a god. And blasphemy of his name warrants criminal prosecution. In 2008, Lima’s 27th Criminal Court found Magaly Medina, a popular gossip journalist for the Peruvian television network Andina de Televisión, guilty of defamation.4 Medina alleged that the fútbol icon had been out drinking on the eve of a match between the Peruvian and Brazilian national teams.4 Her sentence: five months in prison and 80,000 sols (US $26,000) in damages.4 The move triggered considerable backlash from Peruvian President Alan García Pérez, as well as the free-speech vanguards Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists.4,5 The latter groups contended that defamation suits should be brought in civil—rather than criminal—judicial fora, thus mitigating any “chilling” effects on free speech and reflecting Peru’s commitment to Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights.4 But Peruvian legal institutions held strong. They held steadfast to upholding Guerrero’s image in an arena where black-and-white striped officials could not blow the whistle for him.
He is a warrior, a god, a mortal. In 2010 he hurled a water bottle into the face of a Hamburg fan who had insulted him, albeit with impeccable aim.6 The then 26-year-old admitted that he had a “blackout”—his capricious temperament getting the best of him.6 But even Guerrero could not transcend the consequences of his actions; the German Football Association fined him €20,000 and suspended him for five league games.7 He also suffers from a harsh case of aviatophobia.8 In 2010, he was stranded in Peru8—in dire need of a sprinkle of pixie dust. Despite trying a total of four times in one month to board a flight back to Hamburg, his paralyzing fear of flight left him clambering off the aircraft just before departure each time.8
- “Paolo Guerrero hat-trick eases Peru past Bolivia and into Copa América semis,” The Guardian, 25 June 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/jun/26/copa-america-peru-beat-bolivia-to-reach-semis. Accessed 16 February 2016.
- Emons, Michael, “Rafael Benitez failed to win his first trophy as Chelsea manager as his team lost to Brazilian side Corinthians in the Club World Cup final in Japan,” BBC Sport, 16 December 2012. http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/20746503. Accessed 16 February 2016.
- “PLACAR de maio tem Guerrero, Seedorf, Barcos e o novo Cruzeiro na capa,” Placar, 23 April 2013. http://placar.abril.com.br/materia/placar-de-maio-tem-guerrero-seedorf-barcos-e-o-novo-cruzeiro-na-capa. Accessed 16 February 2016.
- “Gossip journalist and producer serving jail for defamation,” Committee to Protect Journalists, 17 October 2008. https://cpj.org/2008/10/gossip-journalist-and-producer-serving-jail-for-de.php https://cpj.org/2008/10/gossip-journalist-and-producer-serving-jail-for-de.php. Accessed 16 February 2016.
- “President says jailed TV host should be freed,” Reporters Without Borders, 11 December 2008. http://en.rsf.org/peru-president-says-jailed-tv-host-11-12-2008,29002. Accessed 16 February 2016.
- “Guerrero fined for hurling water bottle in face of Hamburg supporter,” CNN, 5 April 2010. http://www.cnn.com/2010/SPORT/football/04/05/football.hamburg.guerrero.germany/. Accessed 16 February 2016.
- “Bottle-thrower José Paolo Guerrero suspended for rest of German season,” The Guardian, 8 April 2010. http://www.theguardian.com/football/2010/apr/08/bottle-throw-guerrero-suspended. Accessed 16 February 2016.
- Amies, Nick, “Fear of flying grounds Hamburg striker’s soccer career,” DW, 2 May 2010. http://www.dw.com/en/fear-of-flying-grounds-hamburg-strikers-soccer-career/a-5216622. Accessed 16 February 2016.