Argentines shocked, saddened by loss to Saudis at World Cup
FILE – In this Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2018 file photo, an Argentinian fan poses with his World Cup ball on the sideline before kickoff against Saudi Arabia during the second semifinal soccer match Argentina vs Saudi Arabia at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil. Some Argentinians who attended the World Cup in Brazil on their vacation have expressed shock and grief, saying they did not know much about the two-time world champions. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)(Photo: Felipe Dana, AP)
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Some Argentinians who attended the World Cup in Brazil on their vacation have expressed shock and grief, saying they did not know much about the two-time world champions.
It is a stark contrast to Argentina’s high-profile and long-running relations with Saudi Arabia. The two have a longstanding and bitter conflict over Argentina’s diplomatic and cultural ties with the Saudi monarchy.
During the last World Cup in Brazil, more than a million Argentines traveled to the South American country, along with thousands of other Brazilians and some Americans, for a chance to watch the two teams play each other in the final.
Since then, tensions between the countries have eased, but some Argentines still remain suspicious about how the games were run.
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Argentine Juan Antonio Valo told the agency that he had heard of the incidents when he visited Brazil to watch the games. He said he felt “deeply sad for the victims” and “deep compassion for the families of those who died, because they had the right to go to the game.”
But he said he had not heard of the violence, and he wasn’t sure what happened.
“All the people here are aware of (the rivalry) with all its intensity, but nothing like this,” he said. “This is so awful.”
Valo was among the more than 10,000 Argentinians who attended the final, which ended in a 2-2 draw between Argentina and Saudi Arabia.
He said the most painful thing was to see the “unacceptable and barbaric” scenes of people, including