Excited fans in France and Argentina are counting down the hours to what promises to be a memorable World Cup final in Doha.
History is on the line for both sides. France are aiming to become just the third team to retain the trophy in its 92-year history, following in the footsteps of Italy and Brazil.
Their head coach Didier Deschamps – who captained France to victory in 1998 – is also vying to become the first manager since Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo in 1938 to win consecutive titles.
For Argentina, the hopes and dreams of the nation rest of the shoulders of Lionel Messi. Arguably the greatest player of all time, he is hoping to crown a glittering career with a World Cup winners medal in what the 35-year-old says will be his final game for his country.
In Buenos Aires it feels like the future happiness of the nation is riding on this World Cup final.
Argentina is a country in deep economic crisis. Rampant inflation means so many millions struggle to get through each month – but along comes Lionel Messi and the Argentina team doing exceptionally well to get to the final and everyone here now seems to have parked their worries and instead are focussing on football.
In Paris excitement is reaching fever pitch.
For the record, this is France’s fourth final in seven World Cups. Among the statistics being excitedly shared by fans is that France is unbeaten in its last 10 World Cup matches against South American sides. The last defeat was in 1978 – by Argentina.
This can’t help bringing to mind Killian Mbappe’s famous comments earlier this year about South American football not being as “advanced” as European, because of the “lower” level of competition there.
He was referencing the fact that the last South American side to win the cup was Brazil in 2002 – and that Argentina hasn’t won since 1986.
And he probably was also recalling the last France-Argentina encounter – in the Round of 16 in Russia 2018 – which France famously won 4-3, Mbappe himself scoring twice.
All the more reasons for France to feel confident. Though of course from the Argentine perspective, all the more reasons too for wreaking their revenge!
African Support and Opinion
There’s been some criticism of the Argentinean Human Rights record against people of colour especially blacks which historically appears to have been systematically erased & removed deliberately by past Argentine leaders to wipe out Afro-blacks in order to create an all-white population. The history of the South American continent and its link to the slave trade cannot be wished away, and the fact that there isn’t a presence of one black person in their national team should be really concerning to the people of Africa. Argentina is considered the whitest country in South America, which is odd considering that, like Brazil, they were colonized and subjected to Spanish colonists shipping in African slaves from the West Coast of the African continent. Currently, Argentina’s population of European ethnicity constitutes 97% of Spanish and Italian and Amerindian, or other non-white groups 3% – this is a disturbing figure taking into account that, in the late 1700s nearly 50 percent of the population in the interior of the country was black, and between 30 and 40 percent of the population of Buenos Aires was black or mulatto. It is widely reported that the president of Argentina from 1868 to 1874, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, undertook a ‘covert genocide’ that wiped out the Afro-Argentinean population to the point that by 1875, there were so little Black people left in Argentina that the government didn’t even bother registering African-descendants in the national census.
Most Africans despite the glitter of Lionel Messi will just be comfortable with the France national team.