Latin Americans Rally behind Messi—but Not Argentina

By Samantha Schmidt

"Solidarity seems strong enough to overcome the fear that Argentines…lord [a World Cup] over everybody," said AS/COA's Brian Winter to The Washington Post.

When the subject of Argentina comes up, Jimmy Becerra, like many Latin Americans, rolls his eyes.

The stereotypes about the South American country—and especially its soccer fans—have been handed down through the generations in this part of the world, including in Becerra’s family: The Argentines are arrogant, the 35-year-old Uber driver said. They think they’re superior to the rest of their continent. In soccer, he said, they’re insufferable.

But this World Cup, he doesn’t care about any of that. He’s all in for Argentina.

Well—for Messi, at least.

“It’s time for him to win one,” Becerra said. “Not only is he a great player. He seems like a great guy."…

In 2014, when Argentina advanced to the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro, Argentine fans held back none of their gleeful pride in playing for the title on Brazilian soil. “Brazil, tell me how it feels,” Argentines chanted, “to have your daddy in your house?”

“It was unthinkable for Argentina to win a Cup on Brazilian soil,” said Brian Winter, editor in chief of Americas Quarterly. “They believed the Argentines would be intolerable for decades or centuries to come, hanging it over their heads.”

This time, Winter said, “is clearly different.” He’s noticed a swell of support for Argentina, partly in appreciation for Messi, and partly in the hope that La Albiceleste can bring the Cup back to South America after four straight European wins. “That solidarity seems strong enough to overcome the fear that yes, Argentines will still brag and lord it over everybody for decades to come!”…

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