The most repeated comment under the videos of thousands of Bangladeshis celebrating the Argentine goals is a request. “We have to have a gesture with these people, they are incredible”, says an Internet user from somewhere in Buenos Aires. Have the players salute the fans, send them signed jerseys or visit Dhaka after the match world are some of the ideas that are best received on Twitter and other social networks.
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At more than 17 thousand kilometers, the certainty is that the gratitude is not disproportionate. Since it started Qatar 2022hundreds of thousands of people in bangladesh they put on the albiceleste shirt and flood the squares and streets of the country’s main cities while chanting –almost on the verge of hysteria– the names of Messi, Di María or Enzo Fernández. The fascination for Argentina has had a great impact in the South American country, where it is already known that soccer is like oxygen, even more so in times of the World Cup.
“Bangladesh is not a large or storied football nation and may not even be recognized as existing on the world football map, but it is very well connected to modern football.”, Jilany Istupo, a Bangladeshi journalist who lives in Dhaka, told El Comercio. The proof is not only the support for Argentina –the most deeply rooted, as seen in this World Cup–, but also the clamor for the Brazilian team.
“Streets and houses are adorned with the flags of Argentina and Brazil”, comments Istupo, who says that, these days, the sale of World Cup team shirts reaches its peak, especially those of Argentina and Brazil. Gossip and discussions revolve mainly around soccer, and the big-screen matches following the World Cup are always packed with fans of the sport.
Mohammad Ali Mazed, a Bangladeshi journalist who also lives in the capital, acknowledges that the passion for Brazil and Argentina runs incredibly high in Bangladesh. “The fans raise the flags of both countries here when the World Cup begins, they hold rallies and there are even clashes”, he tells this newspaper.
“The national team shirt has transmitted for years a madness for the colors and Argentine passion. Before with Diego and now with Leo. It is a pride that a country like Bangladesh supports us. We will try to do our best. Thanks to the people of Bangladesh”.
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the common adversary
Bangladesh is ranked 192nd in the FIFA rankings and has never gone to a World Cup. Even now that FIFA has determined that 48 teams will contest the next World Cup, their chances of attending as representatives of the Asian confederation remain rather remote. They are still a long way from Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia or Iran, the teams that stand out the most in Asia internationally.
But their null soccer tradition does not prevent the Bangladeshis from succumbing sentimentally to the soccer of Argentina or Brazil, the two powers of South America.
Horacio Srur Mohadeb, Bangladesh’s honorary consul in Buenos Aires, recalls the historical nature of the bond that unites Bangladesh and Argentina, especially with regard to its position in relation to the United Kingdom.
“The British occupation of Bangladesh left many dead, as well as the brutal exploitation of its natural resources and its inhabitants. It not only greatly impoverished Bengalis, but also inhibited their pride and dignity as an extraordinary millennial culture by pitting it against the imperial Europeanism of English Western and Christian culture.”, he tells El Comercio. For this reason, he affirms, his compatriots have historically recognized that Argentina faced the United Kingdom over the Malvinas Islands 40 years ago.
Soccer is also an escape route in an impoverished country that often makes headlines for its vulnerability to natural disasters or for exploitative labor in its textile factories. “Soccer helps to forget the problems, even if it is only for a momentsays Mohammad Ali Mazed, a Bangladeshi journalist who also lives in the capital.
In recent years, the affinity has been reinforced by the consistency and quality of Argentine and Brazilian soccer.
Soccer has always been popular in Bangladesh. In the 1980s and 1990s, the rivalry between Bangladeshi football clubs was intense, often leading to conflicts between fans. The rural population also likes football more than any other sport. Now there is a large influx of public to Argentina and Brazil, because people love soccer.
Ali Mazed points out that the people of Bangladesh support Argentina above all because of Maradona and his “divine performance” in the 1986 World Cup.Fans describe it to their children as a fairy tale. Local media outlets also regularly publish content about him and his heroism. Then came Lionel Messi. He is one of the most celebrated men here and they believe he is the greatest of all time. The fans want to see him with a World Cup trophy at least once“, it states.
In the case of Brazil, the passion was consolidated earlier thanks to the figure of Pelé. “In addition, his victory in the 1994 and 2002 World Cups created more fans in the country. These days, the fans of Brazil see Neymar as a great footballer. He is the symbol of Brazilian football in Bangladesh”adds Ali Mazed.
If Argentina and Brazil continue to win in this World Cup –both have already qualified for the round of 16–, the option grows that they could see each other in the semifinals, which will put the collective madness for both teams in Bangladesh to the test. In July 2021, on the eve of the Copa América final, clashes between fans from Brazil and Argentina in Dacca and other cities resulted in several injuries. Football passion is not a gambling thing in Bangladesh.
I am Jack Morton and I work in 24 News Recorder. I mostly cover world news and I have also authored 24 news recorder. I find this work highly interesting and it allows me to keep up with current events happening around the world.