Save Money in this Sunday's paper

comments
  • Print

Violence mars Argentina's World Cup celebration

By LUIS ANDRES HENAO
Associated Press
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/13/23/37/402-15g5Pe.Em.55.jpeg|180
    Victor Carreira - AP Photo
    Soccer fans try to escape from a tear gas cloud and a police water cannon, used to restrain a group of youths who hurled rocks and vandalized stores, at a rally after Argentina's performance in a 1-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup finals, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Police said more than a dozen officers were injured and many more were arrested.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/13/23/07/702-12IVCg.Em.55.jpeg|180
    Victor Carreira - AP Photo
    Soccer fans try to escape from a tear gas cloud and a police water cannon, used to restrain a group of youths who hurled rocks and vandalized stores, at a rally to celebrate Argentina's performance in a 1-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup finals in Buenos Aires, Sunday, July 13, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Police said more than a dozen officers were injured and many more were arrested. The chaotic situation marred what was an otherwise spontaneous gathering of support for Argentina’s national team after its best World Cup run in 24 years.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/13/20/22/829-WIiGJ.Em.55.jpeg|235
    Ivan Fernandez - AP Photo
    Argentina soccer fans react as they watch a live broadcast of the World Cup final match between Argentina and Germany on an outdoor television screen in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Mario Goetze volleyed in the winning goal in extra time to give Germany its fourth World Cup title with a 1-0 victory over Argentina.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/13/12/42/557-1vXY6J.Em.55.jpeg|210
    Rodrigo Abd - AP Photo
    An Argentina soccer fan waves an Argentine flag from the top of a car in Samba Land, an area visiting World Cup fans are using as a campground, on the final day of the tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Argentina will face Germany on Sunday.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/13/11/23/457-1coiLn.Em.55.jpeg|210
    Rodrigo Abd - AP Photo
    Argentina soccer fan Miguel Perez poses for the portrait in his body paint in Samba Land, an area used as a campground by visiting World Cup fans in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Argentina will face Germany at the final World Cup match on Sunday.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets late Sunday to restrain a group of vandals who disturbed a peaceful rally celebrating Argentina's gutsy performance in a 1-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup finals.

Parents with small children could be seen fleeing in fear after police, who initially remained on the sidelines as jubilant fans poured into downtown Buenos Aires, began chasing down the vandals on motorcycles. The youths, many of them with their faces covered and drinking heavily, responded by hurling rocks, destroying store fronts and even breaking into a theater.

Police said 20 officers were injured and at least 60 people were arrested. The vandals tore down street lights and ripped up the stone from some streets to throw at officers.

The chaotic situation marred what was an otherwise spontaneous show of support for Argentina's national team after its best World Cup run in 24 years.

The center of festivities was the city's iconic Obelisk, where fans traditionally gather to celebrate victory, not defeat. Cars honked staccato rhythms, firecrackers were tossed into the air and fans of all ages jumped in place shouting "Argentina! Argentina! Argentina!" with barely a tear in sight.

"We have nothing to regret, we played first rate," said 53-year-old Horacio Laseiras, carrying his six-year-old daughter on his shoulders.

The two-time world champion entered the title match as the clear underdog after Germany's 7-1 thrashing of host Brazil. But despite complaints about lackluster play earlier in the tournament, the team led by captain Lionel Messi showed grit throughout the match, creating several opportunities to score in the first 90 minutes.

Amid the outpouring of gratitude, there was a hint of frustration that Messi, the four-time world player of the year, didn't turn in a stronger performance.

"Messi still isn't Maradona," said 31-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez, referring to Diego Maradona, who lifted the championship trophy for Argentina in 1986 and led the 'albiceleste' to its last World Cup final, also against Germany, in 1990. "But this here is a party. We're all proud of our warriors."

Businesses had shut down ahead of Sunday's game and Argentines had stocked up on meat to enjoy the game with a traditional asado, or barbeque.

A crowd of about 20,000 people dressed in blue and white colors filled the capital's Plaza San Martin to watch the match on a giant screen, climbing atop lamp posts to get a better view.

"I feel an enormous sadness," 19-year-old Soledad Canelas, carrying a blue-and-white Argentine flag, said after the game. "I had the illusion of seeing Argentina become champion for the first time in my life."

The shot at the title united Argentines otherwise exasperated by one of the world's highest inflation rates, an encroaching debt crisis and a corruption scandal that has penetrated deep into President Cristina Fernandez's inner circle.

Fernandez, whose approval rating has plunged in recent months, kept a low profile during the tournament. She declined an invitation to attend the final, preferring instead to rest ahead of a summit Tuesday, also in Brazil, with leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and China.

She didn't comment on the team's loss but local media reported she had called head coach Alejandro Sabella to offer her support and is planning to welcome the team home on Monday morning.

Despite the pride over their team's performance, many Argentines couldn't hide the pain.

In Rio de Janeiro, more than 70,000 Argentina fans cheered on their team, many having traveled upward of 40 hours by car and seemingly all wearing their team's sky-blue jerseys and chanting day and night.

"This was a trauma. We were going to be able to leave singing songs in victory with the glory of the Cup," said Joao Cuenca, who has an Argentine father and a Brazilian mother. "What happened is nothing short of a disaster."

--

AP Writer Joshua Goodman contributed to this report from Bogota, Colombia.

Henao on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LuisAndresHenao

Henao on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LuisAndresHenao
Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more



Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more


Quick Job Search
Salary Databases
Your 2 Cents
Share your opinion with our Partners
Learn More
CharlotteObserver.com