Shanghai ? Argentina

On Thursday I published a short dispatch at the Atlantic in which I described the deep affinity that Shanghai’s sports fans have for the Argentine national team.

So it makes a certain kind of cosmic sense that – when I arrived at Shanghai Stadium this afternoon for the match between Argentina and Australia – I found that I was seated in the beating heart of the section apparently reserved for Shanghainese who wish they were really from Argentina. All through the game: “Olé! Olé! Olé!” Or “Vamos! Vamos! Vamos!” Then back to “Olé! Olé! Olé!” And all of this while wrapped in Argentinean flags, waving Argentina! scarves, and speaking in knowing tones about the history of Argentinian soccer.

Standing behind the Shanghainese Argentinians were a group of real Argentinians who – to my eyes – veered from shocked delight to being kind of weirded out by the whole thing. The zealotry of the convert, I suppose.


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