6.39 AM Monday, 22 April 2024
  • City Fajr Shuruq Duhr Asr Magrib Isha
  • Dubai 04:29 05:47 12:20 15:47 18:48 20:06
22 April 2024

Fifa World Cup 2014 final: Argentina pain turns to violence over loss to Germany

German soccer fans celebrate during the live broadcast of the Brazil Soccer FIFA World Cup final match between Germany and Argentina at the public viewing area in Zurich, Switzerland, Sunday. (AFP)

Published

Argentines reacted with tears, cheers and violence after the dream of a third World Cup title slipped through their fingers Sunday, as clashes between hooligans and police ended a massive street party.

Tens of thousands of people flocked to the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, the iconic monument where the country traditionally celebrates and rallies, waving the flag, setting off fireworks and singing the praises of national hero Lionel Messi and team.

Despite the 1-0 loss to Germany in the down-to-the-wire, extra-time match, young Argentines climbed onto traffic lights and bus stops, dancing and singing to the beat of drums.

But after several hours of partying, dozens of hardcore fans known as "barra bravas" started throwing rocks at riot police watching over the crowd, who responded by firing rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon.

The clashes sent families with children scurrying for refuge in restaurants or hotel lobbies.

Most of the crowd dispersed as a haze of tear gas settled over the area, leaving just a few dozen fans who broke windows and set trash on fire, determined to provoke the police.

TV images showed looters carting off stolen items, including tables and chairs from a restaurant, as newscasters criticized police for just standing by.

Fifteen police were injured in the fray and some 40 people were arrested, media reports said.

Bittersweet ending

The clashes contrasted with the mostly celebratory reaction to the bittersweet end of the nation's World Cup campaign.

Pic: AFP

"It was still a good World Cup. Reaching the final against Germany isn't too bad. I'm proud of the team," said Leandro Paredes, a 27-year-old mason.

"We didn't manage to get revenge (for Argentina's loss to Germany in its last World Cup final in 1990), but I saw 11 warriors on the pitch during this final."

At 20 years old, Martin Ramirez was not yet born when Diego Maradona led Argentina to their last World Cup title in 1986.

He said Sunday's game was "tough."

Pic: AFP

"I thought I'd see us become world champions for the first time," he said.

When the final whistle blew, the 50,000 people watching on a jumbo screen in Buenos Aires's Plaza San Martin cheered for Messi and team -- and found consolation in knowing they had at least bested arch-rivals and hosts Brazil, who finished in fourth place.

"Brazil, tell me how it feels to have your daddy in your house," they sang to their South American neighbors, the song that has been Argentina's anthem throughout this World Cup.

Others sang "I'm Argentine, go Argentina, every day I love you a little more."

Bitter Brazilians celebrate

Brazilians bitter about their team's disastrous World Cup celebrated Argentina's defeat to Germany in the final Sunday by dancing and launching fireworks, relieved that their arch-rivals failed to triumph on their soil.

In Brasilia and Sao Paulo, fireworks exploded after Mario Goetze scored in extra-time to give the Germans a last-gasp victory at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium.

Brazilians chanted "Cry! Cry! Argentina!" in a nod to the song "Don't cry for me Argentina."

Tens of thousands of Argentine fans who had swarmed Rio's Copacabana Beach to watch the game on a jumbo screen fell silent while Brazilians broke into song and danced. Some even waved German flags.

"Thank God, thank God that Germany won," said Caio Ferraz, 45, a Brazilian looking up at the stars on the legendary beach.

"If Argentina had won, they would have made fun of us for years," said Ferraz, who wore the jersey of Rio club Flamengo, whose red and black stripes match Germany's away jersey.

Tensions rose with some fights reportedly breaking out between Brazilians and Argentines in Copacabana and outside the Maracana.

Police used tear gas to disperse fans near the stadium, the G1 news website reported.

In Copacabana, some 50 people tossed beach chairs and bottles at each other, causing several injuries, according to local media.

Germany became the first European country to win the Cup in Latin America, but that was not enough to convince many Brazilians to support their southern neighbors.

Germany even humiliated Brazil in the semi-finals, trouncing the hosts 7-1.

Brazilians painted the German flags on their cheeks and even wore the European team's jersey.

On its website, the sports daily Lance asked "Tell me how you feel now?" in a response to a similar Argentine chant.

"With Brazil in their hearts, Germany are four-time world champions," it said.

Missed chance for revenge

Daniela Eula, a 21-year-old retail saleswoman, said she was "disappointed but not sad."

"They lost with dignity, not like the 4-0 in South Africa," she said - referring to another painful loss against Germany, in the 2010 quarter-finals. "They can hold their heads high."

The most disconsolate, mostly teenagers, sat on the sidewalk in shock, their eyes red with tears, or walked with their heads in their hands.

In a pizzeria transformed into a bratwurst-and-pretzel house for the match, the capital's German community gathered to watch their team win.

At the end of the match they drenched each other in beer, jumped on each other's shoulders and sang "Deutschland, Deutschland!"

German Ambassador Bernhard Graf von Waldersee, who was in the crowd, had just enough time to say it had been "a great game" before his security detail whisked him away from a growing crowd of furious Argentines.

It remains to be seen what reception the team will get when they arrive home Monday morning, in the light of day and hours after Sunday's day-long party.

Despite their display of national pride after the match, the weight of disappointment was heavy.

Newspaper Clarin summed it up on its website: "The Argentine dream frustrated in extra time."

Mascherano – Pain will last forever

Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano said the pain of losing the World Cup final in extra time  to Germany on Sunday would live with him forever.

"Unfortunately the pain will be there for life because this was our chance," said the Barcelona midfielder after the 1-0 defeat in Rio de Janeiro.

Argentina played extra time in three of their four knockout games and also had a day less to rest ahead of the final than the Germans after squeezing past the Netherlands on penalties in the semi-final on Wednesday.

And the 30-year-old said they ran out of steam in the second-half of extra time when Mario Goetze struck the winner seven minutes from time.

"It is difficult to explain. It escaped from us at the last minute, we did everything to try and win. We had the best chances until we ran out of gas.

"The pain is immense because we wanted to take the World Cup back to Argentina but we gave everything. We are empty, we gave what we had and we are sorry for ourselves, for the people that came here and for the people that are in Argentina.

"Football is like this and we have to raise our heads and deal with the pain."