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Friday, 7 June, 2002, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
In Argentina, life just got worse
Argentine fans watching the England game
Victory could have overshadowed the economic crisis

The bar Mad about Football in downtown Buenos Aires was crammed as Argentines took the day off to watch the World Cup, looking desperately for a distraction to the worsening economic situation.

A homeless man watches the game on a shop TV
A homeless man in Buenos Aires grabbed a front-row seat
"We are going to win," said a boisterous Paula Tomas, 29, settling down for the match in front of one of the giant TV screens in the bar.

"We deserve to win, we have to win, everything else has been going against us."

The blue and white of the national flag was everywhere - on the shirts and faces of fans - as bouncers turned away the tail end of the queue as the bar filled to bursting point.

Confidence sapped

The sound of the commentary was drowned out by confident Argentines arguing the merits of the players on the field.


They are English and are wearing red shirts - be bulls!

Argentine fan

But when England were awarded a penalty the bar suddenly went quiet, hundreds of Argentines putting down their morning coffee and croissant, looking aghast at the screen.

There was just a collective moan when the ball was embraced by the back of the net.

The second half saw a lot of Argentine pressure on the English goal, but nearly every time one of their players shot, the ball ballooned over the goal and into the crowd, provoking abuse from the frustrated Argentine fans.

"What is wrong with you?" screamed one young man.

"What more motivation do you need, they are English and are wearing red shirts, be bulls!"

Back to misery

When the end came, the bar emptied much faster than it had filled, unhappy Argentines returning to the grim reality of their economic crisis.

"There was so much pressure on our players," said a mournful Gloria Trujillo, wiping paint off her face with a grimace.

Argentine fans watching the England game
Fans found it hard to watch the misses of the second half
"Not only did we need a victory to lift our spirits, but it was against England, and feelings run deep as nobody has forgotten Las Malvinas [the Falkland Islands], although many have forgiven."

But the Argentines have not lost hope and the World Cup is not over yet.

With a deepening recession gripping the nation, bank accounts frozen and the once-coveted Argentine peso now a third of the value it was in January, the people have little else to be optimistic about.

"Of course we will win in the end," said Gloria, perking up.

"Nobody gets the run of bad luck Argentina has had this year."


arrow
 MEN'S FINAL PREVIEW
Ronaldo won the World Cup and the Golden Boot
 LINEKER'S VERDICT
Gary Lineker

See also:

07 Jun 02 | England
07 Jun 02 | Argentina v England
07 Jun 02 | Argentina v England
07 Jun 02 | England
07 Jun 02 | Scotland
Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


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