Fútbol has provided a unique arena for immigrants to immerse themselves in Argentinian culture.
Colombia's President, Juan Manuel Santos, asked Colombia's soccer coach, the Jewish-Argentine Jose Pekerman, to stay on after leading the national squad to and through the most successful World Cup in history. Pekerman is the most recent example of Jewish Argentines' involvement in football since its early days in South America.
There was no Hank Greenberg, Red Auerbach, Moe Berg, or Mark Spitz in Argentina, although this does not mean that no Jews made names for themselves in Argentine sports. Prominent Jewish footballers have included, among others, Leopoldo Bard, the first team captain and president of River Plate; Ezra Sued, a striker on both the Racing and national teams; Aaron Werfiker, stopper on the River and national teams (his fellow players had trouble pronouncing his name, so they called him “Pérez”); Miguel Reznik, who played for Huracán; and, more recently, Juan Pablo Sorín, midfielder for River as well as a Spanish team. All these figures challenge the still very common myth that Jews did not participate in Argentine football. At any rate, simply buying a ticket to a game, learning the names of all the members of a team, following the sport in the media, or rooting for your favorite team or player was enough to make you an active participant in Argentine popular culture.
Most books about Argentine football tend to claim that religious and ethnic differences have not been issues in Argentina's national sports. This claim is not confined to sports history. The fact is that many intellectuals in Latin America reject ethnicity as a significant analytical category (unless they are discussing the indigenous population or people of African descent), even if they themselves are part of an ethnic minority. Thus, football is presented as a channel of social mobility based on talent alone and as the sport that best represents some of the most cherished Argentine values and character traits, irrespective of the players’ ethnic origins.