Argentina, its Messi, its fans and its economic chaos

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The time of a World Cup, Argentinian fans want to forget the catastrophic economic situation that their country is going through. They cling to the cleats of Lionel Messi, to forget the galloping inflation and poverty. Argentina will play the 2022 World Cup final against France on Sunday December 18 in Doha.

From our special envoy to Qatar,

For those who do not know the devotion of Argentines to football, the scene could seem surreal. A young man leaving the Lusail stadium after qualifying Lionel Scaloni’s men for the finale starts shaking and crying just at the mention of theAlbiceleste and Lionel Messi. ” My country is bloodless, the youth is ruined, we only have football and Lionel Messi to hang on to life “, he lets go in yet another sob.

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Football, a way to forget about poverty

In Doha, it’s not just rich Argentinians who have made the trip to support their team at the World Cup. Most of the fans here have made huge financial sacrifices in hopes of seeing Messi, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, win his first star, the country’s third. Sometimes family and friends have clubbed together to send a fan on a mission to support the national team.

Crossed in the district of Msheireb the day after the victory against Croatia, a young man from Rosario, Argentina’s third city behind Buenos Aires and Córdoba, tells us how football allows him to evacuate his daily problems. ” Messi is the best player in football. Football for us is a passion, it is also a way of forgetting poverty in a country that is doing very badly. Messi is the one who brings joy to those who suffer. People are crazy about him, like in every country in the world. But it belongs to us and it’s our pride “, assures the one who was born in the same city as the Paris Saint-Germain player. On one of his legs he got a tattoo of Maradona and his “Hand of God”.

The Golden Boy (The golden kid), who died in 2020, considered one of the best players in the history of football, then scored voluntarily with his hand against England in the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup. the second leg of our fan, another image of the former Napoli player. Devotion seems limitless.

Lionel Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot for Argentina against Croatia in the semi-finals. REUTERS – LEE SMITH

In 2022, inflation is likely to reach 100% in Argentina

After Messi’s coronation against Brazil, at the Maracana stadium, during the last Copa America in July 2021, the country hopes for a repeated twice. The Argentina team are pushed by their fans with their famous song boys, which resounds in all the stadiums in Qatar when the Albiceleste is on the pitch. A song that finds its source in a melancholic title released in 2003 by La Mosca, a fusion rock group from Buenos Aires, who re-recorded it in its “foot” version just before the start of the tournament. Originally, it was about a guy who goes out to get drunk all night because of heartbreak.

Except that the intoxication aroused by the qualification in the final of the Albiceleste is a parenthesis which masks the reality of the country: Argentina, it is above all an economy which pitches without end. In 2022, inflation is likely to reach 100%. The average Argentinian monthly income is 66,500 pesos (363 euros).

Read also : Thousands of Argentines demonstrate, pushed to the limit by ever-higher inflation

A little joy for the Argentine people

At the start of the tournament, Labor Minister Kelly Olmos said that the Argentine people deserved ” A joy “. And the fans – the Argentine fans – are not about to stop their sacrifices to see their team win this third star, even if they are not fooled. After the World Cup, the time of the galleys will be back.

The first Argentine star was won under the dictatorship of Jorge Videla, in 1978, at home. Forty-four years later, more than a third of the Argentine population lives below the poverty line. With one of the strongest inflations in the world, the government of Alberto Fernandez is struggling to reconcile the demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), back in the country.

While unemployment is at its lowest since 2016 (7% of the active population), having a job, formal or informal in Argentina, does not protect you from poverty, because wages do not keep pace with this galloping inflation.


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