Strangely enough, this match offered the finest opportunity for what should have been a fascinating report. For example, Real Madrid is four-time winner in four years of the Cup of European Champions. This means that they are not the best of 16 clubs but of some 300 professional clubs from 16 countries containing a population far larger than that of the United States.
Real Madrid is probably the richest soccer club in the world. Their stadium has a seating capacity of 135,000 spectators. They fill this stadium most of the time; they fill any other stadium in the world (except in the United States); and there is not the least danger that they will ever have to move to Zaragoza for lack of public support, competition from TV, bullfighting or any other reason.
Now to the players (I shall limit myself to the forward line). The right wing is Kopa, who was acquired from France some years ago at the preinflationary price of $75,000. Kopa is the idol of every kid in France. A soda pop, shirts, sports equipment (among others) have been named after him, and he was largely responsible for France's excellent showing in the 1958 Soccer World Cup. Inside right is Puskas, the captain of Hungary's "wonder team" (1952 to 1956). When the Hungarian revolt broke out, Puskas and his teammates of the Honved Club were abroad and refused to return home. Pressure, promises and cajoling made some of them change their minds, but Puskas remained firm, was suspended by the international soccer organization ( FIFA) for two years and then bought by Real Madrid. Di Stefano, the center forward, was acquired from Argentina via Colombia for a sum that must have been well above $200,000. When the Franco government made some difficulties about his naturalization (which would allow him to play for the Spanish National Team), popular pressure became so strong that the matter was straightened out in record time.
I have nothing sensational to report about inside left, Rial, except that he is a magnificent player. Left wing Gento (transfer value about $200,000) is one of the most fantastic wizards in soccer. Fast, tricky, flashy, a pure delight to watch, matched only by such incomparable wingers as Brazil's Garrincha and England's (Sir) Stanley Matthews.
In summary, these men are kings in the king of sports who honored us (I am using the word deliberately, for their average fee per game is $25,000, and they must have reduced this sum considerably for the New York encounter) with their visit. Was your reporter unable to appreciate the consummate artistry of these masters? Did the sentimental tears about past ungentlemanly behavior of baseball celebrities prevent him from seeing the spectacle which drew 200,000 in Rio? Surely, sirs, your reporter resembles a man who has before him a bottle of the most exquisite wine and keeps bawling about the Coca-Cola he would like to drink.
Palo Alto, Calif.