Football Defines Who We Are: Ambassador of Argentina to India
A new World Cup is coming. For most of the people in Argentina, this is one of the most important moments of the last four years. Everybody will be sitting in front of the television or besides the radio waiting for the magical moment when our national anthem is played before every match or when our team strikes a goal.
A file photo of Argentina's training session. (Twitter/ Selecccion Argentina)
A new World Cup is coming. For most of the people in Argentina, this is one of the most important moments in the last four years. Everybody will be sitting in front of the television or besides the radio waiting for the magical moment when our national anthem is played before every match or when our team strikes a goal.
Football is one of the key elements that define Argentina´s identity, together with tango. It makes us who we are. It is part of our lives and of our memories as a country. And within football, the World Cup is the most special occasions of all.
Argentina has already won the World Cup twice, in 1978 and in 1986. In 1978, we were the host country, and beat the Netherlands in a remarkable final. On that occasion, Mario Alberto Kempes was our hero, scoring two goals on that final match. It was a historical moment.
And how can we forget 1986? It will be remembered for Diego Maradona´s “Hand of God” against Great Britain. Later on in the same match, he also scored what is considered the best and finest goal in the history of football.
In Argentina, football is associated with many different things and emotions. Few occasions are more celebrated than a goal of our favourite team, or winning a match at the World Cup. The entire country is paralyzed when Argentina is playing a match. The streets can be empty, and if it happens that a match takes place in working hours, people will just gather around a TV to watch the match on the street.
One of the most important elements of football is friendship. We play, discuss watch football with friends sharing a “mate” (our national beverage) or an “asado”. And you can witness very passionate discussions about football in Argentina everyday, everywhere. You can even have memorable, eternal and very passionate discussions with friends because of football. But we all understand that it is only about football, and that it awakens our deepest passions and feelings.
Mr. Daniel Chuburu,Ambassador of Republic of Argentina to India
Football is also an occasion where we meet each other, and when all of us (no matter who we are, which is our favourite local team or which political party we prefer) join to support our national team. It is indeed a factor of unity, a moment available to all and for all. All of us have an opinion regarding which is the best player, and how our favourite team should play. We all feel like if we were the managers of the team. It does not matter who is right or wrong.
Football is also like philosophy for us. We have “schools of thought” that define different strategies and tactics for playing, and “thinkers” or “philosophers” (managers, members of the press) that represent those schools and defend them like a political ideal. Passionate and heated debates result from the encounter of these different ways of thinking about the best way to play football.
But football also means suffering. Just as life, football is not made only of happy and glorious moments. Losing a World Cup final (like the one we lost against Germany in 2014) can definitely be one of the saddest and most regrettable moments. It feels indeed like it could be the end of the world for us. And we share this suffering with friends.
I would like to recall the words of Roberto Fontanarrosa (a popular righter and artist of my country), who said that “I recognize that for consolidating friendship, the importance of a shared suffering due to football”.
I am aware that in many parts of India, cricket has a stronger appeal than football. But I also know that in some places like Kerala and specially in West Bengal, people really love football, and that the audience for football is growing in all the country. Last years Under 17 World Cup (U-17) was a total success (although Argentina unfortunately did not qualify for it) and demonstrates that football has a great potential in India.
Argentina is willing to work together with India in order to unleash the same. It would be great to see in the near future our national teams playing against each other. Why can we not imagine in the near future a friendly match in Mumbai between Argentina and India, with Lionel Messi on the field? Let’s make it happen.
Looking forward, Argentina, together with Uruguay and Paraguay, are running for organizing the World Cup in 2030. This will be a very special edition, since it will mark 100 years since the first edition of the World Cup was played in our neighbour country Uruguay (that was in 1930). Without any doubt this will be a very important occasion.
I hope you all join our national team and the millions of Argentinians at home in every game and give us all of your best wishes and support for this World Cup.
(Daniel Chuburu is the Ambassador of Republic of Argentina to India. Views are personal)
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