What would you be willing to do to see your country’s champion win the World Cup?
In a global fan contest, surely Argentina would win by a landslide.
Passionate and noisy, the enthusiasm of the Albiceletes rose to the beat of “muchachos” in Doha – their fans’ anthem – with each victory of Lionel Messi and his team until Sunday’s final against eventual champions France at the Stadium Lusail.
Twice world champion (1978 and 1986), generally noted for the quality of its football players as well as its repeated economic crises, in an apparently football-loving country, after 36 years a Has given birth to the opportunity of new anointing. Unusual cabals and sacrifices among thousands of Argentinians traveling to Qatar.
In one corner of Souq Waqf, a traditional Qatari market, locals and tourists crowd around a young woman in an Argentina national team jersey juggling a ball at her feet. On a handwritten sign in English and another sign in Arabic, he asks for “tickets please” for the final. Passers-by leave money for him in a hat.
“Football is everything in Argentina. For me, football is everything,” said Belen Godoy, a 24-year-old freestyler who has been in Doha for a month and was able to attend almost all games in Argentina with resale tickets. told The Associated Press. “I left the family, I spent all my savings. I’m going back to Buenos Aires and don’t know how I’m going to pay the rent.
“But no one has taken away from me what I have experienced,” said the excited young woman before returning to her exhibition.
Not far from there, Cristian Machinelli walked wrapped in an Argentine flag, which featured Diego Maradona kissing the World Cup and another picture of Messi. Also, it has “Chubut” written on it, which is the province in the extreme south of Argentina.
“I sold a Toyota truck for it,” said Maschinelli, 34. “This is what I’m spending here and I’ve given up on buying tickets for the final. There’s no explanation, there’s no argument. Beyond the fact that Argentines are sick of football, we’ll do anything to get there.” do madness, to encourage”.
There is no official figure for the number of Argentine fans traveling to Qatar. Not all of them come from their country of origin, as many are based in the United States and Europe.
Although he was not always in the majority in the stadium’s stands, his special adoration for encouraging the team – chants accompanied by drums and the odd habit of taking off his shirt and waving it in the air like a fan – was crucial to his at crucial moments. Intimidated the team and rivals.
“When we lost to Saudi Arabia (2-1 in the first game), the people were with us. We feel everyone’s support and it’s amazing. We all pull in the same direction. We all want the common good, we are all fans of La Celeste and Blanca”, highlighted coach Lionel Scaloni.
Julián Santander attended that first match at the Lusail Stadium wearing the classic Argentina jersey.
“My friends used to call me Mufa (mourning). I went to see Spain and Costa Rica. I have the Spain jersey because of my Spanish family and they won 7-0. A friend advised me to keep my outfit with Argentina,” said the 23-year-old fan, who has since supported Messi with the red jersey.
After the initial shock, his father Osvaldo even changed his uniform for the next match against Mexico to stay in the competition. He wore a black replica of the official jacket of one of Argentina’s goalkeepers at the 2014 World Cup.
“I was in mourning. We gave up work, school, life, a lot for our passion and our passion was sending us home again. Things changed in such a way that today we are three days away from a moment who knows,” said the 57-year-old man, searching the streets of Doha for tickets to the ultimate dream.
Qualifying for the final match of the tournament came as a sigh of relief for a country grappling with an economic crisis with one of the highest inflation rates in the world and rising poverty.
“The tickets are very expensive, as are the tickets. The efforts are numerous. Argentina is very complicated politically and economically and everything costs 10 times more,” said Viviana Rodríguez, 53, who moved to downtown Doha with her son Lautaro Longhi. In 2010 he took part in a massive protest along with other compatriots to demand FIFA’s access to tickets at a fair price. Because their resale value is skyrocketing.
“They are demanding a zero kilometer car for one ticket. It’s good luck,” complained the 20-year-old Longhi, fuming at the prospect of missing Messi’s consecration live. Winning the cup would be “a glass of water in the desert”.
Every Argentina fan in Qatar feels as important as the playing eleven.
“It would be a nice end to life, although I don’t want the apocalypse. As a fan, I did everything I had to do, travel, give affection, spend a lot of money, fight for tickets. That’s it.” That’s what we came for,” Santander Sr. concluded.
Journalist Luis Andres Henao in Doha contributed to this report.