Why some Brazil supporters are backing bitter rival Argentina in World Cup final

It will be nice if a South American team win the trophy, say fans

By Rituraj Borkakoty in Doha

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Peruvian brothers Marco and Allan. Peru did not qualify for the Qatar World Cup, but they were supporting Brazil. Now they would be happy if Lionel Messi wins his first World Cup for Argentina. Photo by Rituraj Borkakoty
Peruvian brothers Marco and Allan. Peru did not qualify for the Qatar World Cup, but they were supporting Brazil. Now they would be happy if Lionel Messi wins his first World Cup for Argentina. Photo by Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Sat 17 Dec 2022, 4:37 PM

Last updated: Sat 17 Dec 2022, 4:38 PM

Tim Vickery, one of the finest British football writers who has extensively covered the sport in South America for BBC and ESPN, has revealed what it is like to be a Brazil fan ahead of a big Argentina World Cup match when the Brazilian team is out of the competition.

“It’s a little bit contradictory now (in Brazil). Normally it’s ABA in Brazil,” Vickery told talkSPORT from Rio de Janeiro ahead of Argentina’s World Cup final against France.


“It’s not Amateur Boxing Association. It’s Anyone But Argentina,” Vickery continued, referring to the fierce rivalry between the two South American football giants.

But remarkably, many fans in Brazil this time, according to Vickery, are now rooting for Argentina in Sunday’s final.


Vickery zeroed in on three reasons for this unprecedented change.

First, Argentina’s resounding victory over Croatia, which knocked out Brazil, led many Brazilians to believe that Argentinians this time have a better team than them.

Second, the magical connection between their 40,000 singing fans and their players in Qatar after every match has evoked envy and admiration in Brazil.

And the third reason, Vickery says, is Lionel Messi.

Despite the bitter football rivalry with Argentina, the vast majority in Brazil have spent the last decade admiring the genius of this Argentinian icon.

Now, they will be happy if Messi ends his years of heartbreak on the international stage with his first World Cup trophy.

“Brazilians love Messi. And if you love football, how can you not love Messi? I remember what Diego Maradona said, ‘Messi can dribble while watching the TV and changing the channels because the ball is so much a part of him,” Vickery said.

The ball was very much a part of Messi when he launched that mazy run in the semifinal against Croatia, tormenting Josko Gvardiol, the tournament’s best defender, with his change of pace, rhythm and direction to create a goal out of thin air.

It’s these moments of magic that have made two Peruvian brothers, who have been attending matches at the Qatar World Cup draped in Peru colours, root for Messi in the World Cup final on Sunday.

For Marco and his elder brother, Allan, Qatar is their third World Cup after Brazil (2014) and Russia (2018).

Peru did not qualify for the World Cup this year, but these two brothers are in Qatar to support another South American team, Brazil.

“We love Brazil and Brazilian football. We hope that Peru will qualify for the World Cup next time (2026), but when Peru is not playing we always support Brazil,” Marco told me after I spotted the two brothers in Peru colours following Morocco’s semifinal defeat to France at Al Bayt Stadium.

I was curious to know if the two brothers, who follow the Brazil team with a passion, will be rooting for France in the final against Argentina, Brazil’s biggest rival.

“No, we will support Argentina. They are our team now,” Marco responded.

“Of course, they are also from South America. It will be nice if a South American team win the World Cup.

“But more than Argentina, we will be happy if Messi wins the World Cup finally. We love Messi, he is a great player. He deserves it.”

In a remarkable coincidence, this reporter bumped into the two Peruvian brothers again outside the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC), the main World Cup ticket centre in Qatar, on Friday night.

Both of them were still in their Peru jerseys when they waved at me before coming up with a request.

“We don’t have tickets for the final. We are desperately looking for tickets. We want to see Argentina and Messi in the final. Can you help us?’ Marco asked me.

I was lost for words. If only I had some magical powers to create match tickets for a World Cup final out of thin air!

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