By LUJAIN JO and VICTOR R. CAIVANO
DOHA, Qatar — “Muchachos” has become a hugely popular unofficial anthem of Argentine fans at the World Cup.
The song, which was written by a fan, includes references to soccer greats Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. It also knocks rival Brazil and pays homage to the Argentine soldiers who fought in the Falklands war. Argentina lost a brief but bloody war with Britain after Argentine troops invaded the South Atlantic archipelago in 1982.
“Guys, now we’re getting our hopes up again, I want to win the third one, I want to be a world champion,” says the chorus of the song that Messi and his teammates belt out on the field to celebrate each victory.
The anthem is also sung in the stands and on the streets of Doha as well as by millions of loyal fans back home in South America.
“When we sleep, when we’re awake, when we eat, when we make love, we listen to this song,” said Florencia Moncalvillo, a 34-year-old fan who walked along the labyrinthine alleys of the Souq Waqif bazaar donning the sky blue-and-white stripped Argentina shirt.
The bazaar has become a hub for thousands of flag-waving Argentine fans.
Known for their creativity when making up songs to cheer on their teams, the authors are usually anonymous. But not in this case.
Fernando Romero, a fan of Argentina’s Racing Club, adapted an old song by the pop band La Mosca to support the national team. Romero said the song came to him after the death of Maradona and Argentina’s triumph in the Copa America against Brazil at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
“I felt that Diego was with us and I liked the idea of including him in a song that we could sing with the people,” Romero said. “That’s where I started and I wrote it.”
Argentina mourned the captain of the team that won the 1986 World Cup when he died in November 2020 at the age of 60. In July 2021, the team coached by Lionel Scaloni and led by Messi won the Copa America for Argentina’s first title in 28 years.
In one of the song’s most original parts, Romero wrote that “from the sky we can see Diego, along with Don Diego and La Tota (Maradona’s parents), rooting for Lionel, and to be champions again …”
The song has become so popular that it has been sung by Messi, who said in an interview it was his favorite fan song.
“In Argentina I was born, land of Diego and Lionel, of the guys of the Malvinas (Falklands) I will never forget,” says another part of the song that pays homage to those killed in the war against Britain.
“We’re a country that is used to suffering, but when we suffer we take out the best of ourselves,” 54-year-old fan Alejandro Rubio said. “So, in this World Cup, after a long time, we’re going to do the best. It’s going to be a great World Cup.”
The song also references the hurt sports pride of losing several finals with Messi as captain and the desire for redemption in Qatar, which might be possible on Sunday if Argentina beats defending champion France in the final at Lusail Stadium.
If Messi finally wins the trophy, “Muchachos” will no longer will have a reason to be. Romero says it’s worth it.
“If we win Sunday and the song is never sung again after that … I have no problem,” he said. “The important thing is to win on Sunday, and I live it like any Argentine, with a lot of anxiety, a lot of hope, and a lot of confidence in this group of players who we know will give everything to leave the flag at the top.”