Every four years, the FIFA World Cup begins. The World Cup is a four to five week tournament in which countries from across the world compete to take home one of the most sought after titles ever. Though the entire world takes this series of fútbol matches very seriously, this tournament is especially important for Argentina. My host dad was quick to inform me that since their last World Cup victory in 1988, Argentina has been thirsty for another title, and now, they are lead by Lionel Messi who assisted them to the runner-up position in 2014.
Messi has become a figurehead for Argentina’s success, and he maintains a godly reputation in Argentina. Businesses throughout Buenos Aires take advantage of this event, and advertisements feature Lionel Messi everywhere. On the sidewalks, he is pictured on fast food and sports equipment street signs in his Argentina game jersey. On the subway he is in clothing advertisements, dressed to the dime in a fitted suit. And on billboards and in television commercials, he can be seen in his jersey, juggling a soccer ball, and drinking mate–an infamous tea-like beverage from Argentina. These advertisements have become rather complex; one particular subway advertisement is interactive and constructed in layers, each layer containing a different aspect of Messi’s face. To focus on his image, the viewer has to stand in such a way to see all the layers from a single perspective, taking time to line each layer up with the next.
Outside of the advertisements, the people of Buenos Aires have a strong passion for their game and country. My host mom was so entranced by the game that she was late to pick us up on our very first day! Argentina’s anticipation the morning before they played Nigeria was outstanding; numerous commuters on the train and subway had painted their faces, wearing jerseys, or carrying flags. Every person knew the significance of the game–middle schools, high schools and universities alike ended class early, whole business closed, and the busy streets calmed to watch the game. In bars and restaurants, waiters sat beside patrons and cooks stood, the whole building filled with the tension. But my favorite place to watch the games was in Plaza San Martin. Here, hundreds of people gathered on a hill slope to watch the game on a 50 foot screen, booming the announcer’s commentary across the city. Throughout the Nigeria game the crowd screamed, yelled, oohed and ahhed in unison with each play, strike, and call of the referee. The whole plaza was filled with raw emotion and anticipation; thirsty for the next goal to win the game. The crowed erupted, screaming, crying, jumping, and hugging each other when Messi and his teammates managed to work past the Nigeria defense to score the final goal. Never before have seen the same amount of unity. The environment and emotion of the entire day, a whole country united around a single cause with expectations of a victory placed heavily on a single player–Messi.
Imagine an entire country united behind a single subject; this is Argentina during the World Cup. For Argentina this game is a release, a moment to join the country in unity behind a single cause. As a study abroad student in Argentina, I am blessed to be in Argentina during this time. Through this experience, I was able to learn more about both the people and country, and participated in an irreplaceable cultural event. Only in Argentina can you feel the intense passion and electricity that I felt during that time!
Felix Amparano is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry, Spanish, and Biology. Felix is excited to spend six-weeks of his summer studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the UMKC Spanish Program. During his time abroad, Felix hopes to gain a better understanding of Argentine culture and health care with the hopes of becoming more culturally competent in his approaches to patient treatment.
Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.