Sunday, Oct 26, 2014

‘No soccer fan’, Argentina prez thought team had won

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez with Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano. )(Source: Reuters) Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez with Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano. )(Source: Reuters)
Reuters | Buenos Aires | Posted: July 16, 2014 1:02 am | Updated: July 16, 2014 9:34 am

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez admitted on Monday she had not watched a single one of the country’s matches in the World Cup, including the final, a blunder that some observers said exposed her as out of touch with the national mood.

A day after soccer-mad Argentina lost the final to Germany by a score of 1-0, Fernandez received the national team in the capital, giving each of the downbeat players, dressed in black suits and ties, a consolatory hug. Fernandez had earlier declined an invitation from Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff to attend the final, saying she was recovering form a sore throat. Her counterpart, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, attended the match, even leaping with joy at Germany’s winning goal. In a televised speech, Fernandez, flanked by Lionel Messi and the rest of the team, said: “As you know I’m no soccer fan. I didn’t see a single match, not even the one yesterday,” she said, adding that she rang Argentinecoach Alejandro Sabella after the match because it felt like the team had won.

Although not entirely surprising given her well-known disinterest in the sport, Fernandez’s comments will do little to endear herself to a country obsessed by soccer and left heartbroken by the defeat. Despite her best intentions, analysts said Fernandez, who cannot run in next year’s election, failed to capture the national mood. “It sort of underscores that she lives in a world of her own more and more,” said Felipe Noguera, a political analyst.

“This has been a very positive month for the country and for the overall mood. And she’s just not part of it,” he added. The team’s run to the tournament final handed Argentina’s 40 million people a rare chance to wipe from their minds the country’s latest debt crisis, surging prices and political scandals.

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