World Cup – Argentina – Netherlands: How does Argentina manage to have such an atmosphere in the stadiums?

Even the Dutch press ended up giving up trying to find an exact figure. The observation is obvious to her: the Oranje army, never the last when it comes to supporting its national teams, has already lost the war for Friday. In the stands at the Lusail stadium, OUR had presented the figure of 30,000 Argentine fans for this quarter-final. They should rather be around 50,000 according to the count of Telegraph. Despite last minute reinforcements, the Dutch should count… 1400.

A habit in this WC. According to the Argentine Embassy in Qatar, 30,000 to 40,000 Argentine supporters made the trip to support the Albiceleste in the mission it has embarked on: to offer a World Cup to Lionel Messi. “It’s crazy what’s going on around this teamsays Nicolás Migliavacca, journalist at Olé. But it’s not just limited to the fans in Qatar: after the win against Australia, there was a rally near the Obelisk, the place where big wins are usually celebrated.“.

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A huge crowd under the Obelisk in Buenos Aires after qualifying for the quarter-finals

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81% audience share in Argentina

There is no boycott there. Against Mexico, the TV station’s viewership was 81%, a record in this football country. In the middle of the summer, Argentina is therefore passionate about the future of its Albiceleste. And some decided, despite the country’s terrible economic difficulties, to take the plunge to join Qatar, simply to preserve the tradition of a national team supported in numbers, as was already the case in Russia, South Africa, but especially in Brazil.

The first explanation for the deafening atmosphere in the Qatari stadiums when Argentina is first comes from there, from this almost disproportionate love for the Albiceleste. It was enough to see the contrast between the former glories of Brazil and Argentina in the round of 16 to also understand the essence of supporterism in Argentina.

While the Rivaldo quartet, Roberto Carlos, Cafu and Ronaldo were fine in the stands as the Seleçao sauntered into South Korea, only Agüero, Batistuta, Sorín, Cambiasso, Zanetti or Crespo had ditched their jackets and long since left their seats to sing and dance in support for their own. In 2018, Diego Maradona’s presence in Russia had also reinforced the idea that in the World Cup it is the holy union behind the Albiceleste.

“The enigma”, which is not one

But these “normal” followers are only the tip of the iceberg. Because, behind the scenes, Argentina has understood that the delirious atmosphere heard in Qatar also came from the presence of certain barras bravas. These groups of local followers, institutionalized in Argentina, form part of the identity of the Argentine fervor. Then in Qatar, when the boat started rocking, they crashed.
It has always been like thatrewind Matthieu, member of Boca Juniors and attentive follower of the subject. The Barras have always managed to live together about the events in connection with the nomination. Lately we saw them a little less, especially because many of them are banned from stadiums, but also from entering territories. This was the case in Qatar since the Argentine government gave the names of some to the Qatari authorities“.

Argentina hinchas against Australia

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A list of 6,475 names was actually sent to Qatar. Concern, some of these names were able to land in Doha without problems to organize the Argentine stands, and therefore to increase the volume a little more. Tyc Sports has thus identified almost 100 supporters who are theoretically excluded from the stadium, but present for the match against Mexico. The subject is mentioned in the Argentine press, but still seems stubborn when it comes to finding a rational explanation, or rather, publicly obvious: “the conundrum of the bans in Qatar that managed to get in after all“, entitled TN Sports a very complete article on the subject.

Maybe the union did the right thing to get them there

Those who managed to enter the stadium should not have had access to it. We have numbers to prove that they arrived in a scattered fashion, but that they all agreed in the final fight to find themselves right behind the goals“, a source from the Argentine Ministry of the Interior explains to the media. That is why you may have seen drums in Boca’s colors or the crests of Club Atletico de Vélez among the Argentine blue and white shirts.

It is a very hierarchical system, classified by lineexplains Matthew. The front line is the most prestigious, etc. A front line barra is someone who can be invited to the wedding of a politician or a football player. He is almost a minister. These were banned in Qatar. But there are still those in the second or third line. We have seen many who have arrived in Qatar. If they are there, it may be that the federation did what was necessary to get them there“.

Argentina hinchas against Australia

Credit: Getty Images

The surprise wouldn’t really be that much that connections between politicians and barras are common in Argentina. At the head of the Argentine federation, a state within a state, Claudio Tapia has always maintained an ambivalent relationship with the barras bravas. The current president of the AFA has only followed the model: Mauricio Macri, former president of Boca Juniors who became president of the republic, had more than cordial relations with the “Doce”, emblematic barra, who receives income through the various sales of the club, but manages even the car parks in Bombonera.

Tapia had done nothing else in 2017 as Argentina played a final match at the Bombonera under second tension to validate their ticket to Russia. 4,000 seats allocated to the association had been given to the chefs of the “Doce”, just to ensure an atmosphere worthy of a great Argentinian evening. Has the match ticket pump been activated again? This is a hypothesis that still awaits official confirmation, which may never come. After all, in Argentina we are no longer a concession away from allowing Messi to lift the Grail…

To move on to the subject of barras bravas, listen to the analysis of our specialist Thomas Goubin in our podcast “Tour d’Europe”

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