How Messi made Mexican and Brazilian fans support Argentina

Brazil is Argentina’s greatest rival in football. Even Mexico has a history of ill-tempered World Cup matches with Argentina

By Rituraj Borkakoty in Doha

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(From right) Alejandro, Danilo (Brazil), Jaime, Bertha, Mauricio and Jaime jr
(From right) Alejandro, Danilo (Brazil), Jaime, Bertha, Mauricio and Jaime jr

Published: Mon 19 Dec 2022, 3:27 PM

Apart from the passionate Argentinian fans, there were thousands of Argentina fans from many countries, including India and Bangladesh, at Lusail Iconic Stadium on Sunday night to back the South Americans in the World Cup final against France.

But the most remarkable feature of this World Cup final was how even fans from Brazil and Mexico, two of the biggest football rivals of Argentina, were happily cheering for the Argentinian team in the final.

And the reason for that was Lionel Messi.

Their love for this icon is so big that they will support Argentina as long as Messi plays in that shirt.

Alejandro was one of those Mexican fans who was overwhelmed emotionally after seeing Messi finally end his wait for a World Cup trophy.

“I am the biggest fan of Messi. So I am very, very happy now,” the young Mexican fan told this reporter after the final match.

Alejandro attended the match with his father Jaime, mother Bertha, brothers Mauricio and Jaime jr. and their Brazilian friend, Danilo.

Alejandro said even Danilo was supporting Argentina for Messi despite being a Brazilian.

“Argentina-Brazil is the biggest rivalry in football. Even Mexico is a big rival for Argentina in football. But we all love Messi. That’s why we wanted Argentina to win,” Alejandro said.

Alejandro, who lives with his family in Monterrey, reveals Messi enjoys a cult status in Mexico despite his country’s history of ill-tempered World Cup matches with Argentina.

“He is very big in Mexico. He is always compared with Cristiano Ronaldo, but I think there are more fans of Messi than Ronaldo. I think he is the best. And today he proved it,” he said.

“Also it’s the first World Cup that I have watched. And Messi has won it. I can never forget this in my life.”

This reporter had also bumped into more Mexican and Brazilian fans before the final.

One such Mexican fan was Roberto Aguilar, a Mexican fan, who made a last-minute Qatar plan after Argentina reached the quarter-final. He got tickets for the team’s semifinal against Croatia, but he was still waiting for a ticket until the early hours of Sunday morning.


Aguilar and his Mexican friend were draped in Argentinian colours when this reporter met them.

“It’s crazy, there is a big rivalry between Mexico and Argentina, but we are Messi fans,” Roberto told me.

“We have been following Messi for a long time. We want to be part of this big event, it’s the final match of the World Cup and it’s the final match for Messi in an Argentina shirt. That’s why we are here trying to find some tickets.”

Messi, Roberto says, is clearly more popular in Mexico than Diego Maradona, the late icon whose status as a World Cup-winning Argentine hero Messi emulated on Sunday.

“Maradona has his fans in Mexico, but not as many as Messi has,” Roberto said.

“I think the reason for Messi’s popularity in Mexico is very different. Messi is a clean guy. He doesn’t get involved in stupid things, that’s why people in Mexico see Messi as an example,” Roberto added, referring to Maradona’s history of drug scandals.

“Yes, there have been Maradona fans in Mexico, but they are not as big in numbers as the Messi fans.

“I heard that there is a church built by Maradona fans in Mexico in his honours. But they are just being Maradona fans. These people are like Maradona himself. They are very extreme.”

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