As April closed with weeks of violent government reaction to protests in their country, Venezuelan athletes from all corners of the world spoke out against the repression of the opposition within the South American nation. However, on Sunday, players from both Deportivo Lara and Deportivo Anzoátegui deployed a new form of protest, one that went against the wishes of the Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) and President Nicolás Maduro’s regime.
After kicking off for the start of their Primera Division matchup in Barquisimeto, players from both teams stood perfectly still, observing a moment of silence for the victims of the violence and unrest that made April one of the bloodiest months since Maduro took office in 2013.
Momento del pitazo en el que los jugadores del Lara y Anzoátegui no se movieron en solidaridad con los hechos que ocurren en el país pic.twitter.com/UAo2mvzCaE
— Alexandra C Alliegro (@AlliegroAle) May 1, 2017
Local private media is reporting that the FVF had not authorized the moment, and that neither they nor the Venezuelan Association of Professional Soccer Clubs had addressed the tribute. State-run media had not reported on the moment either, focusing instead on Anzoátegui’s 2-0 win that saw them hold on to their 4th place spot in the table.
The intent of the tribute was confirmed by the Deportivo Anzoátegui Twitter account, saying that “the moment of silence was held at the request of the players, in memory of those fallen during the protests occurring throughout the country.”
Se realizó un minuto de silencio a solicitud de los jugadores en memoria de los fallecidos durante las protestas ocurridas en el país.
— Deportivo Anzoátegui (@Dvo_Anzoategui) April 30, 2017
Lara midfielder Ricardo Andreutti took to his Twitter account after the game to explain further, saying that he believed the action was “just” above all else, before quoting the spiritual “Down by the Riverside.”
— Ricardo Andreutti (@rickyandreutti) May 1, 2017
The tribute was repeated throughout Venezuela over the weekend, as players in other matches observed the moment of silence. As seen in the Lara-Anzoátegui video, commentators did not know how to address the situation, choosing instead to fill the time with vague analysis and dead air. It was reported by Olé that, in the Caracas F.C. and Carabobo matchup emanating from Valencia, the cameras chose to ignore the players on the field, focusing on the crowd until play resumed.