Jul 12

Video: Argentina suffering through victory

by in Argentina

Families came out in crowds to Córdoba's Patio Olmos to celebrate the Argentine national team's advance into the he Semifinals of the World Cup 2014|photo by brandon c janes iv

Families came out in crowds to Córdoba’s Patio Olmos to celebrate the Argentine national team’s advance into the semifinals of the World Cup 2014|photo by brandon c janes iv

Argentina defeated the Netherlands 4-2 in a shootout, after more than 120 minutes of a scoreless World Cup semifinal. Fans watching the game from Córdoba, the country’s second largest city, described witnessing this victory as “suffering,” which, for Argentines, goes beyond a simple fear of losing. To suffer, in Argentina, is how you win a soccer game.

“We suffered beautifully,” said Diego Valdez, a rabid fan who walked Rondeau Street in a toga made from an Argentine flag.

Even if Argentina wins Sunday, in the final against Germany, fans of the national team will suffer until the end.

“When we have the Cup in our hands, that’s the only way to stop the suffering,” said Emanuel Reynals, who celebrated Wednesday night with his family in front of Patio Olmos, a downtown shopping mall.

Argentines are by nature melancholic. The silence of its crowds – hundreds sometimes gathered before a single television – come to say, “We have all assembled here. Score a goal now or we will explode in angst.” And at each attempt on its goal, women shriek like someone being tortured. Many foul words are uttered.

“Here fútbol is primordial”

Elizabeth Carrizo, a local teacher and fanatic of the Buenos Aires club team Club Atlético River Plate, explained to me how soccer has become an important part of the national psyche.

Carrizo said, as much as anything one might associate with Argentina, such as tango, gauchos or dulce de leche, over the years Argentines have grown to identify themselves with futbol because of the success of its national team. Argentina has won the World Cup twice, competed in the final four times, which is the fourth best record in the World Cup, after Brazil, Germany and Italy.

“For the people here futbol is primordial,” Carrizo said. “So that when we play, we suffer – especially when it is the World Cup.”

Fans of Argentina's national team crowd into the space along Rondeau Street, Argentina suffers through 120 minutes of scoreless play against the Netherlands in the Semifinals of the World Cup 2014|photo by brandon c janes iv

Fans of Argentina’s national team crowd into the space along Rondeau Street, Argentina suffers through 120 minutes of scoreless play against the Netherlands in the Semifinals of the World Cup 2014|photo by brandon c janes iv

Playing to forget

When the World Cup ends (tomorrow) Argentina will have to return to a long set of problems it might have preferred to ignore, and which a World Cup win will do little to solve: A sluggish economic recovery which, after being sued by a New York hedgefund for billions of dollars of unpaid debts, the so called vulture funds dispute, could swing the country back into recession. The country has the worst Standard and Poors credit rating in the world, CCC-. And the Vice President faces corruption charges by the high court.

I heard a woman interviewed on the street by an Argentine TV station who said that if Argentina wins the World Cup the vulture funds will not matter anymore (I don’t think she was referring to the $35 million purse FIFA awards the winner). A win may provide the country with a much needed release, but suffering in Argentina will never go away; because even when it wins it suffers.

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2 Responses to “Video: Argentina suffering through victory”

  1. From Jack Lauder:

    Keeping tabs on you from Killeen.

    Posted on July 12, 2014 at 6:28 pm #
  2. From James:

    If Argentina was suffering before, I can’t imagine how they are feeling today. (Tough loss… they played well though.)

    Posted on July 14, 2014 at 9:12 am #

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