The afternoon of the 1st of June, 1978, the dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was standing in the centre of the official viewing platform of the Monumental stadium, in the midst of the opening ceremony to the World Cup that was about to start.
After almost an hour of parades with flags of the 16 countries that participated on the championship and choreographies in which hundreds of physical education students wrote “FIFA” and “World Cup 78” in the playing field, Videla opened the “sporting event”, as he described it, with a speech.
The field’s announcer introduced him as “General Lieutenant, Mr. Jorge Rafael Videla, president of the Nation”. He was, at the time, chief of the Argentine Army, and in its name he had been occupying the role of president by force, after the coup d’état he leaded next to Emilio Massera and Orlando Agosti. The three of them integrated the First Military Junta of the last dictatorship. The afternoon of the 1st of June, they shared box seats.
The transcription of Videla’s speech at the opening of the 78 World Cup:
Today is a joyous day for our country, the Argentine Nation.
Two circumstances contribute to this fact: the commencement of a sporting event of such an international level as this Football World Championship. On the other hand, the amiable visit of thousands of women and men coming from the most diverse regions of the Earth, (who) honour us today with their visit on the sole condition of their good faith in a climate of affection and reciprocal respect.
And it’s precisely the confrontation in the playing field and the friendship in the field of human relations what allow us to assure that it is possible, even today, to coexist in unity and diversity. Which is the only way to build peace.
That is why... (applause).
That is why I ask God, Our Lord, for this event to be truly a contribution to the strengthening of peace, that same peace we all wish onto the whole world and onto all men of the world. This peace inside of which man can be fully realised as a person with dignity and in liberty.
In the context of this sporting confrontation, characterized by its chivalry; in the context of friendship between men and between people, and under the sign of peace; I declare officially inaugurated this eleventh Football World Championship of 1978.
Thank you very much.