Tuesday, June 6, 2023

How Argentine fans brought Buenos Aires to ‘Barvarganto’

Al Wakrah, Qatar – The enticing smell of charred meat fills the air, Argentine music blares from portable speakers and the card game ends with high-fives and smiles.

It’s a regular sight at the sprawling apartment complex in the city of Al Wakrah, southeast of Doha, that Argentine football fans have turned into a tiny slice of home.

Barhat al Janoub, or Barvarganto, as its current residents call it, may be over 13,000 km (8,078 mi) from Buenos Aires or Rosario, but fans living here enjoy their pre-match customs and elaborate rituals. Distance has not been allowed to come in the way of the post. -Match celebrations – many of which have been for Argentina’s supporters.

The biggest was after Argentina’s semi-final victory over Croatia.

Matias, who arrived in Qatar from Argentina at the start of the World Cup, said he kept singing and dancing until the early hours of the next morning because it was a “once-in-a-lifetime moment” for him.

“We don’t know if we will see Argentina play another World Cup final, so we wanted to make the most of this opportunity and celebrate until we drop,” he told Al Jazeera in Barvarganto. Told outside his apartment.

Videos posted to social media showed one fan playing music from his electric keyboard as dozens of people sang one of their most famous football songs and waved their arms in the signature rhythmic back-and-forth motion.

“The culture of singing songs before and after matches originated in club football in Argentina and we only change the lyrics to suit the national team and the players,” Matias said.

Music isn’t the only part of Argentine culture fans have brought with them to Qatar. Pre-match singing and post-match celebrations are always combined with a group barbecue because all the singing and jumping requires energy, says Mattias.

Be it some chicken and vegetables cooked by some friends, or whole lambs served up to large groups, some kind of grilling has to be done to complete the list of Argentine match-day rituals.

Tatiana Quartucci, who traveled from Rosario to Qatar, said barbecues go with every special occasion in Argentina. And no occasion could be more important than the World Cup final.

A large banner with a picture of Argentina’s Lionel Messi hangs from an apartment in Barhat al Janoub, or Barvarganto [Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera]

Quartucci said, “On Sunday we would all put on Argentina shirts, gather in the center and have a big barbecue to last us through until the end of the match.”

Free shuttle buses arranged by tournament organizers will take fans to Lusail Stadium. If videos posted before Argentina’s earlier knockout games are anything to go by, the buses will rock to the speed of singing and dancing fans during the 45 km (28 mi) journey.

“We start singing before boarding the buses and don’t stop until we reach the stadium,” Matias said, adding that the singing first resumes inside the stadium and continues until after sunrise in Barvarganto.

According to the Argentine embassy in Doha, at least 35,000 Albiceleste fans have made the long trip to Qatar. While some left after the first few matches, most remained with their teams throughout the knockout stages.

Tatiana Quartucci (second from left) and Matias (second from right) travel from Lionel Messi's hometown of Rosario in Argentina to the World Cup in Qatar [Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera]
Tatiana Quartucci, second from left, and Matias, second from right, travel from Lionel Messi’s hometown of Rosario in Argentina to the World Cup in Qatar [Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera]

Argentine flags hang from balconies, lamp posts and even large dustbins in every corner of the Barwargento apartment complex. Some of these flags featured pictures of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, while others simply indicated which part of Argentina the fans came from.

“We brought our towns, villages and football clubs with us to show that all of Argentina is behind the team,” said Mauricio, a fan who came from Ushuaia, Argentina’s southernmost city, holding his island’s flag. Said.

Matias, who hails from Rosario, admitted that the jitters would set in as the countdown to the final approached, but that didn’t stop him from clutching “Vamos Argentinas” to his chest as he boarded the bus on Sunday afternoon.

“We are here in large numbers and we are here to win the World Cup,” he said raising his fists.

While brightly colored buses in tournament livery will carry fans, they hope “La Scalonita” will take Lionel Messi and his team to the promised land.

The 'La Scolenta' van is parked at the apartment complex in Barhat Al Janoub, or Barvarganto, where Argentina supporters are living in the south of Qatar (Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera)
La Scaloneta parked at the apartment complex in Barahat Al Janoub, or Barwargento [Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera]
The 'La Scolenta' van is parked at the apartment complex in Barhat Al Janoub, or Barvarganto, where Argentina supporters are living in the south of Qatar (Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera)
Behind La Scolenta in Barhat Al Janoub, Qatar [Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera]

In recent years, under the leadership of coach Lionel Scaloni, the Argentines received a new nickname – La Scalonieta, van or bus (camioneta) “The Scaloni Bus”, or “Scaloni” with the word for the bus driven by Scaloni. Combination .

Barwargento has its own La Scaloneta – a small white van with images of Diego Maradona and Messi on the back. A large Argentine flag is draped over one corner, while the front is painted in the blue and white colors of the country.

La Scoloneta, according to Matias, represents the dream of millions of Argentines. The driving force behind the dream is strength coach Lionel Scaloni.

“Since taking charge in 2018, Scaloni has led the team to phenomenal success and we are confident that he is the one who will lead us to glory,” he added.

Times of National
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