More than a game: Local Argentines celebrate their country’s World Cup victory in downtown Steamboat
Flooding the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina on Tuesday, Dec. 20, an estimated four-million Argentinians celebrated their country’s recent World Cup victory with a championship parade.
A few days prior, the Argentina national team defeated France in a 4-2 penalty shootout of the World Cup final after being tied 3-3 at the end of regulation on Sunday, Dec. 18.
In Steamboat, the celebration was not nearly as mighty but equally as meaningful for a few Argentines now living in town.
Growing up in Argentina and moving to Steamboat two years ago, Karim Rachid has waited his whole life to see his home country win a World Cup.
“It’s not just a game, it’s not just a sport. It’s actually like a religion for the Argentine people,” Rachid said.
In fact, many businesses and stores in the South American country were closed on Sunday for the match. Rachid’s father owns a grocery store in Argentina and he closed the doors to watch the game with the store’s employees.
Rachid watched the World Cup final in town with a group of about 10 people. Five were Argentines living in Steamboat.
Rachid and his friends gathered for a pre-match breakfast and were prepared to endure 90 minutes of elite soccer play. Little did they know, the game would go a full two hours thanks to half an hour of extra time followed by a deciding penalty shootout.
Rachid said the game was extremely stressful and it was a “rollercoaster of emotions” for him and his friends. He had never seen a more intense match in his life. That made it all the more meaningful.
“In my case, it’s the first time and I’m super thankful to be alive and to be a part of this to win the World Cup final,” Rachid said. “This is my second World Cup final and being a world champion is really emotional for us.”
Argentina now holds three World Cup titles with its first two victories coming in 1978 and 1986. Rachid was not yet born for either of those, but saw Argentina reach the final in 2014 when the team lost to Germany.
Following the historic final, Rachid and his Argentine friends went out for drinks and celebrated in the city streets while waving the Argentinian national flag in celebration. Horns honked from passing cars to show support of Rachid and Argentina which was a full-circle moment for him.
Though the Argentinian population is low in Steamboat, it meant a lot for Rachid to share a bit of his native country with his new home. It was a moment he will forever cherish and never forget.
“On Sunday we were crying together,” Rachid said. “For sure it is not embarrassing to me that I’ve been crying after a soccer game because it’s a little bit more than a game. I for sure felt like I was back home.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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