Red Wine and Arepas:
How Football is Becoming Venezuela's Religion
Why is a country with a population of over 30 million people yet to qualify for a World Cup, especially one in the football-rich continent of South America?
Uruguay, two-time winners of football's biggest tournament, has a population of under 4 million, yet regularly reach the final stages of the competition. They're also the most successful team in Copa América history with 15 titles. Is there any way Venezuela, a neighbour ten times as populous, can become international football's next big thing?
Red Wine and Arepas: How Football is Becoming Venezuela’s Religion will examine and explore contemporary Venezuelan society through the lens of football, answering questions on the relationship between the sport and politics, culture, and society.
Written with the cooperation of the executive president of the Venezuelan Football League, Rubén Villavicencio, Red Wine and Arepas will feature exclusive interviews with players past and present, such as the 34-times capped midfielder Stalin Rivas, Copa América 2011 player Franklin Lucena, New York Red Bulls midfielder Cristian Cásseres Jr, and Manchester City player Yangel Herrera.
The Kickstarter has even been covered in a live TV interview on Latin American satellite channel teleSUR English, as well as in national newspapers!
The book will be written with the participation of:
Football truly is a global language and I want to provide a different narrative for you, a way to learn about the country through the medium of football, rather than the ubiquitous presence of pro and anti-government literature.
As Rubén Villavicencio, executive president of the Venezuelan Football League, told me ahead of this project, “it is a very important phenomenon; it is the only thing that can unite us despite the profound political differences that today separate us. For those who are outside the country, it is their shield that still keeps them united to their homeland. For those of us who live here, it is a symbol of neutrality, hope, and unity; it is much more than football.”
La Vinotinto are the only South American nation yet to qualify for football’s biggest international tournament. Is that going to change for Qatar 2022, though?
This topic is vast and with numerous societal, political, and psychological factors contributing, has a fascinating backstory, and an undecided answer. This is just one issue Red Wine and Arepas will delve into, speaking with former internationals, including Copa 1997 and '99 centre-back David McIntosh Parra, past Venezuela managers, and current La Vinotinto players, including Rafael Romo, Luis Mago, and Femenino's Verónica Herrera.
· The Red Devils – On the road with the Caracas FC Ultras
· How Venezuelan players have taken the MLS by storm
· Family Business – The McIntoshs, Morenos, and Lucenas
· Zamora FC – Venezuela’s export market
· Ferro: Marie breaking through Media Machismo
· The history of La Vinotinto
· Running the Venezuelan Football League: Rubén Villavicencio
· Verónica Herrera: History in the Making
Red Wine and Arepas is a work in progress, and that’s why you can shape some of the content. What do you want addressing? Is there an aspect of Venezuela or its football that you want to know about? Tell me and I will do my best to cover it.
Just because you’re here doesn’t necessarily mean you know what Kickstarter is. Kickstarter’s mission is to “help bring creative projects to life.” Each project has a funding goal – ours is £5000 – and if people like the project, they can pledge to make it happen. If the goal is reached, the project goes ahead, but if it isn’t everyone keeps their money. Kickstarter is all-or-nothing funding.
I was offered a publishing deal by a reputable publisher for 1000 copies of Red Wine and Arepas, but their model did not appeal to me: 50% on costs, 90% of the profit in their pocket, and 10% commission for me as the author. It didn’t seem right. Instead, I want to put 100% of your pledges into the book, crowdfunding with backers as passionate and intrigued by Venezuela and its football as I am.
This Kickstarter project will be community-driven and not for profit (every penny raised will go directly into production and publication) and comes with a money-back guarantee. If you read the book and don’t enjoy it, you’ll be able to return it and receive a full refund.
· Deportivo Táchira – the heartland of Venezuelan football
· Solovenex – a football company making a difference
· 2007: Hosting the Copa América & introducing the Juvenile Rule
· The Women’s national team
· The footballing diaspora – Europe and beyond
· How football can unify the country
· The effect of settler communities on the sport
· The City Group and Venezuela
The book will be a 350-page anthropological narrative with football as the anchor from which societal issues, trends, and behaviours of contemporary Venezuela can be explored and examined. I think football is reflective of the communities it represents, if not society in its entirety, and I believe that if you can gain an insight into a people’s relationship with football, you can better understand them as a whole.
Whilst I do not wish to write an overtly political book, especially in the conventional manner, it is fair to say I imagine politics will also feature throughout, and that isn’t surprising or unique to Venezuela: I am of the opinion that football is inherently political.
I have already secured numerous interviews and meetings with Venezuelan players, managers, officials, journalists and fans, domestic and international, men and women, and I will continue to work hard to arrange more. This includes members of the 2019 Copa América squad and teams from previous Copas, domestic league legends, young players at the beginning of their careers, and stars of the women’s game. The whole project comes with the blessing and support of the executive president of the Venezuelan Football League Rubén Villavicencio, who will be coordinating much of my time in Caracas.
I very much want to provide an immersive narrative from a detached viewpoint. I won’t be providing much personal opinion in the book at all. My desire is to tell a story of Venezuela through the medium of football.
In terms of the message I deliver, what I aim to do is provide uncensored accounts, emotions, and viewpoints. Whilst I will fact-check statements of facts, I will not censor opinions whether I agree with them or not, and wherever they may come from on the political spectrum.
Therefore, I welcome your opinions, your suggestions of avenues to explore, and if you choose the “Your Own Article” Reward Level, you can have your own article featured in the published book's postscript. The only rules are that it must be on Venezuelan football and cannot exceed 1000 words.
Alternatively, you can make a pledge, sit back, and enjoy the journey from pitch to publishing.
My name is Jordan and writing is my passion. I have always wanted to write a book but was not going to force it. If an idea inspired me enough, I thought, I would throw myself wholeheartedly into it, otherwise it would remain as a pipe-dream.
I have always written as a hobby, ever since I was little, and have now been writing online for various publications, paid and unpaid, for nine years. In that time, I have written extensively on football, politics, and culture. I also read a lot, with my favourite topics being football, Latin America, sociology, and psychology. I hope that Red Wine and Arepas will be an amalgamation of my reading and writing interests.
‘Why Venezuela?’ is a natural question to ask and the answer is 'the people'. It really was that simple. There was a long subconscious run up to it, but what made the idea come to the fore was speaking to Venezuelans, football fans or not.
I love Latin America and as I was reading about the continent and slowly working my way through its countries, reading books on history and football, I came to Venezuela.
I love books like James Montague’s When Friday Comes and Jonathan Wilson’s Angels With Dirty Faces – anthropological masterclasses on their country, or countries, of choice. When I got to Venezuela, the only books on offer were on Hugo Chávez, the revolution, and Simón Bolívar. I read them all, but I was eager for more. Where I’d normally turn to football books to learn about a country – because I’m a firm believer a good football book will reflect societies and educate on communities – there were none. So I turned to the few Venezuelans I already knew and then reached out to the millions I don't. There are hundreds of stories but none to read. I want to change that and I hope you do too.
All backers purchasing a copy of Red Wine and Arepas: How Football is Becoming Venezuela’s Religion will have their name beautifully incorporated into the artwork of the book, as well as receiving a signed limited edition copy, with bonus chapters exclusive to the Kickstarter run, and regular updates from pitch to publishing.
If you wish to purchase more than five copies of the book or you are a retailer, please contact me to arrange a bulk deal.
Risks and challenges
Modern-day Venezuela is inherently divisive as are the risks and challenges. An experienced investigative journalist who worked there for over five years told me it is more dangerous than Mosul and Kabul. A resident from a Caracas suburb urged me not to come.
Yet, plenty of others, those who have left and those who live there, have told me to simply take precaution, while Rubén Villavicencio assures me I’ll be safe. So, in many ways, the biggest challenge I have already overcome - deciding to do it.
In terms of risks, I can guarantee this book will be written, and if you don’t enjoy the read, I will provide a full refund.
The biggest risk is the political instability in Venezuela, which could result in cancelled flights or concerns for my safety. As a precaution, I will be taking out extensive insurance to ensure that, at worst, my time in Venezuela would be delayed rather than not occurring.
In light of the above, I remain confident that this project will run smoothly and you as supporters of this endeavour will enjoy the ride from pitch to publishing!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)