An Argentine fan writes to the AAFF (Asian Argentine Football Fans)


Argentina won its last World Cup in 1986 and its previous title (a Copa America) in 1993. Since then, it took 28 years and seven lost finals for Argentina to return to be champion. And boy, was it worth the wait!

Argentina’s Journey To Three Stars

I remember the 2006 World Cup in a blurry way. At the time, I didn’t know the rules of football, but I could recognize the emotion in games. We were eliminated from the World Cup by a well-known foe: Germany (who would annihilate us twice more in the successive two World Cups). In the final of 2014, I cried. My father hugged me while tears ran down my face and told me we would be champions someday. But I couldn’t believe it because I knew how difficult it would be to reach another World Cup final. I remember I had an eating disorder then, and I think I couldn’t eat for three days. After that, I felt such great pain in my chest that I couldn’t do anything but lament.

It was not coming any easier!

Then the 2015 Copa America came, where the team reached a new final but failed to score a goal against Chile. Losing in the penalty shootout was painful. In the 2016 Copa America, I was sure that Argentina would win, and that’s why my heart sank when Chile won again in the penalty shootout. I remember seeing Messi cry, and I could hear my heart breaking into a thousand pieces. At that moment, I thought Argentina was cursed and impossible to win a final. And Messi thought the same since, at that moment, he stopped playing for the Argentine National Team. He said, “The Argentine National Team is over for me.” I tried to win a cup with Argentina; it was what I wanted the most, but it didn’t happen. “It’s better for everyone if I step aside.” That was when the anti-Messi Argentinians (the Argentinians who didn’t like Messi) begged him to play again. Coach Bauza convinced him to return to the team, and Messi did so by saying: “I love this jersey too much.” From that moment on, the madness began. No more criticism, no more getting angry with the players; we have to encourage the team in any way.

More frustration to our luck

Argentina struggled to qualify for the 2018 World Cup because the team needed to work. That was demonstrated by their rapid elimination from the World Cup that year. From that moment on, a significant cycle began: Scaloni took over as coach. Sports journalists were not silent. They said that Scaloni was a rookie, that he did not deserve to be Argentina’s coach, and that he should resign as soon as possible… But Scaloni had the most important thing: the support of the people. Thus, in the 2019 Copa America, after being eliminated by Brazil in the semifinal, people asked Scaloni to continue as Argentina’s coach. And what a good decision it was!

Almost a massacre

Scaloni was not only forming a group of the best Argentine football players but also a group of friends. La Scaloneta (the name by which this team began to be called) would get together for birthdays, lunch, or dinner to have a good time. And that was something that did not exist before—something that united them beyond the football bond.

COVID-19 struck in the middle

Argentina and Colombia were announced as the hosts of Copa America in 2021. But due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in Argentina, it was held in Brazil (again!). And Argentina’s rival in the final was nothing more or less than Brazil. The president of Brazil at the time, Bolsonaro, said they were already champions before the match began. How do I blame him? Brazil faced a team that had not been crowned champion in 28 years. They are the most successful team of all time, the last winner of the Copa America… And both teams faced each other in the Maracana stadium, their own home, where Brazil got stronger. Argentina couldn’t do anything to avoid their defeat… But an angel helped us, an Ángel Di María, with an unforgettable goal that filled us with joy. Argentina had achieved the impossible, and Argentina became champion again, defeating its most significant rival in its own home.

Getting back to our best form

Argentina was unstoppable. For the first time in its history, it qualified for the World Cup by making a qualifying round undefeated (that is, without losing a single game). Then, Argentina won the Finalissima (a cup in which the Copa America champion and the last UEFA European Championship champion met) against Italy at Wembley. Before the World Cup, Argentina had 36 unbeaten games, the second most critical unbeaten record in history (Italy holds the first with 37 games without losing). This time, Argentina arrived as one of the favorites to win the 2022 World Cup, and nothing could go wrong.

We crushed and burned again

Everything went wrong. That first game against Saudi Arabia, where Argentina lost 1-2, shocked us and took away all our hopes. I remember looking at my brother because I couldn’t understand what was happening. He was covering his head and saying, “It can’t be real.” That day I couldn’t eat lunch or dinner, and my parents were worried because they thought I was having problems again! (I had anorexia when I was a teenager; I mentioned that above.)

But the problem was that my stomach was closed, and I felt sad because it finished all my dreams with a single game. It was now impossible to be a champion. All matches from then on were finals. We couldn’t lose again. Messi said some magic words at that moment. He said, “I ask for the people’s trust.” And we always trust La Scaleneta. But we no longer had the hope of winning the World Cup. We wanted the team to be among the best because they deserved it.

Getting our true class back!

And what happened next? The rest is history. Argentina beat Mexico 2-0 and Poland 2-0. With that, Argentina qualified for the round of 16, where they beat Australia 2-1. Then there was the quarterfinal match against the Netherlands. They tied 2-2, and Argentina won in the penalty shootout. Finally, Argentina beat Croatia 3-0 in the semifinals. With that, they qualified for the grand final with nothing more and nothing less than the last world champion: France. But, of course, Argentina played much better. France was lucky to score three goals, enough to make us suffer even more and go to penalties. But then, football did justice. The best player on the field won, the one who had been searching for it for years, and the world’s favorite was defeated: Lionel Messi. And both France and Argentina left us all a gift for posterity: the best World Cup final in history. At last, I could see tears in Messi’s eyes, but this time they were not of sadness but of joy.

Disaster hit Argentina’s Economy

My country is going through one of its most essential financial crises. So people are outraged because inflation doesn’t let them save money, and they can’t pay their debts.

However, football gave us great joy when we needed it most. For an Argentine, football is religion:

    • We treat our players like gods.
    • We pray to them with beautiful songs.
    • We make all kinds of offerings.

Winning The Untouchable For 32 Years

The best day of my life was December 18, 2022, when my team won the World Cup. We celebrated at Obelisco, which is Argentina’s most famous landmark. Two days later would be another important day for me, as I went to the Ezeiza airport to welcome the players to the country (and I saw them all for the first time in my life, Messi among them). If there is one thing we can say about this story, it is that you should never give up. Messi had won everything; the only thing missing was the cup with Argentina. Who would have thought he would achieve it at the end of his career at age 36?

NonEnding Celebration in Argentina

Before finishing, I want to thank, on behalf of the Argentine National Team, all those foreigners who encouraged and moved us. They have all shouted, suffered, and rejoiced with Argentina. As you probably saw, after each game, the Argentine players stayed to sing with the fans (and they were the only team that did this). Why? Because without the fans, all this would not have been possible. And we know that there were not only Argentines cheering but also Indians, Bangladeshis, and Pakistanis, among others. We even made a Facebook group to understand cricket rules so we could support you as you helped us. Thanks to my friends for all the nice things they said to me and their unconditional support for the Argentina National Team.



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