Much of Argentina is currently caught up in "Messimania."
A few people refuse to be part of this huge wave of euphoria such as Gabriel Salvia, a former journalist, who heads Argentina's Cadal human rights agency.
"Argentines are only interested in sporting success, they see the World Cup as a welcome change from everyday life with its economic misery and high inflation..."
Cadal drew attention to the situation of migrant workers in Qatar ahead of the World Cup. Salvia approached soccer associations around the world in the name of his "La pelota no se mancha" ("Football will not be soiled") initiative — including AFA, the Argentine Football Association. The outcome was disappointing.
"As a symbolic gesture,we proposed that all the players wear a black armband to commemorate the many people who died during the construction of the stadiums," he says. "The European federations responded to us, the Netherlands even did so in great detail — while the AFA didn't deign to write us a single line."
At the World Cup 44 years ago, the Argentine junta tortured and disappeared members of the opposition. Some were thrown out of planes above the Atlantic. The biggest torture center, the Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA), was just a stone's throw from the River Plate stadium. Some prisoners heard every single goal cheer before being tortured with electric shocks by their tormentors.
"The junta used the World Cup as a tool of international propaganda, while state terrorism disappeared people," Salvia says, arguing that Argentina should be much more aware of human rights violations.
The situation of migrant workers, the LGBTQ+ community, and of women in Qatar are not a top priority in other Latin American World Cup countries, including Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Costa Rica.
Gabriel Salvia is not supporting Argentine or Lionel Messi.
"I was born in Buenos Aires, but as a defender of human rights I feel that the world champion should be a team that is in some way committed to human rights and has addressed the situation in Qatar..."