Down in Argentina, the World Cup parties go on and on. They can’t get enough of Andres Cantor screaming “Argentina campeon del mundo” or world champion. To be honest, Argentina won on penalty kicks, not a goal, but let’s not get technical at a time like this. Let’s just hope that baseball never decides to end World Series extra-inning games with a home run derby. That would be the end of civilization as we know it.
It’s the nation’s first Cup since 1986 so many people don’t remember the last time that a team brought home a trophy. The World Cup ride had another benefit: forget about the economy and watch the games on TV. And most of the locals did exactly that.
Now, the tournament is over and reality is hitting most people down there. This is from Lucinda Elliott:
Argentina’s triumph comes amid political turmoil and a battered economy. Inflation is expected to reach 100 per cent in the year to December. Poverty is high and inching higher. The local peso has collapsed against the US dollar on the widely used black market exchange rate, shattering people’s purchasing power.
Politics isn’t much brighter. Vice-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was found guilty of corruption this month and the popularity of the leftwing president Alberto Fernández has fallen so far that he was advised not to travel to present the prize to team captain Lionel Messi.
Argentina’s success in the month-long World Cup championship has offered respite to the country of 46mn from years of economic underperformance and knocks to their national pride.
Superstar Lionel Messi, who walks on water these days, did not make it to the presidential palace for the customary photo with the president. The team bus could not move through Buenos Aires because of the thousands on the streets. I’ve heard some stories that Messi did not want to politicize the trophy but who knows for sure. The current President Alberto Fernandez did not get his photo on the balcony with Messi.