Already on December 10, the assignment of colors to the ballot papers for the referendum generated suspicion. “The entire population knows that this is not fair,” declared the Front Amplista leader Rafael Michelini, after the Electoral Court had determined that the light blue should accompany the No. “The Court should reflect and change the color of all Uruguayans, so that not be from a part of the Uruguayans but from all”.
From a publication deleted a few minutes later by the Secretary of Sports, Sebastián Bauzá –identifying the March 27 vote with the Uruguayan team’s jersey– to the final message of two senators to the population, football was cornered by the campaign.
Thursday’s match between Uruguay and Peru for the qualifiers for the Qatar World Cup, three days before the citizens decide at the polls whether or not to repeal 135 articles of the Law of Urgent Consideration (LUC), could not distance itself from the militancy and subliminal messages.
On one side, the pink jacket worn by Mayor Carolina Cosse to attend the field, and on the other, the Colorado Party truck with the slogan “don’t stop the change” parked next to the Olympic grandstand. A few days before, former vice president Lucía Topolansky had hinted that Uruguayan players could also wear pink, and the president of the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF), Ignacio Alonso, had taken it with “humor”.
For natural reasons, the light blue began to flood the surroundings of the Centennial Stadium, and the pink could not be left behind. Around noon, two brigades of militants rounded up the graffiti that dyed the passage over the tunnel on Avenida Italia with the Yes flag color. In the late afternoon, amid the din of trumpets and chants, the big milestone for the promoters of the referendum was to be present at the main entrances to the exclusion zone.
“Since the light blue color has been used, which belongs to everyone, for one of the positions in this referendum, we want both positions to be reflected, because we are all Uruguayans,” celebrated the Front Amp militant Felipe Matonte, while handing out the last of the 3 thousand balloons arranged by command. The coordinator made up of, among others, the PIT-CNT and the Broad Front set up posts, militants and even inflatables at four points surrounding the Centenary.
The Commission for the Yes had urged at the beginning of the week that its followers could attend the stadium with the color pink. The request to the militancy challenged the AUF guideline regarding not entering any type of political symbology into the eventa condition that had already been stipulated in the previous match against Venezuela.
“There is not a great demand. On a day at the beach, people grab much more material. Here people come to the game with a specific interest and it passes quickly,” admitted the militant Adrián Manera. “In addition, the prohibition of being with symbols linked to the campaign makes them directly not interested in holding a flag, for example,” he confessed.
It was so that in almost all the points of entry, the billboards had pink handkerchiefs with the slogan “Votá Sí” confiscated. An AUF security officer explained to The Observer that prevented the entry of those explicit materials, such as those types of pieces with clear messages. With the t-shirts and masks, on the other hand, the line was grayer.
The Pink Panther danced on the entrance to Amsterdam, and at the height of Italia Avenue a post with flags of the National Federation of Secondary Education Teachers (Fenapes) reproduced the Yes jingle at full volume. “The pink one always goes above the celestial”, a man commented to the deputy Claudia Hugo, while the front-runner waved a Yes flag over the square of Catalonia.
72 hours before the referendum and on the eve of the ban, not even football could distance itself from politics.