Wearing clothes back to front, holding a picture of Diego Maradona or a stamp depicting the saint of urgent causes, even a grandmother sitting in the same chair: superstitious Argentines are taking no chances for Sunday’s World Cup final.
“In the match we lost against Saudi Arabia I wore the blue and white jersey with the number 10, then against Mexico I wore it back to front and we won,” Julio Tresto, 55, from the Flores neighborhood of Buenos Aires, told AFP.
Having lost their opening World Cup match 2-1 against the Saudis, Argentina have since found their groove, improving with every match as they strung together five straight victories.
“Since then I have always worn it back to front and we haven’t stopped winning. When it works out, you never break the superstition, that’s football,” added Tresto.
He will do the same thing on Sunday when Argentina play reigning champions France in the World Cup final in Doha, hoping to lift the trophy for only the thrid time in their history.
All over Buenos Aires and the rest of Argentina, obsessive football fans are sticking to their unique rituals.
In the house of designer Graciela Castro, 58, in the Almagro neighborhood of Buenos Aires — home to the San Lorenzo football team of Pope Francis — every ritual is carried out rigorously.
“Same trousers, same shirt, I don’t go to the toilet during the game and, of course, I insult the enemy with refinement, because they’re French,” she said with a mischievous smile.
Alma Mauri, 15, a secondary school pupil from the Avellaneda neighborhood says she uses “the same Argentina jersey that hasn’t been washed since the second match and I put all my World Cup figurines on the table.”
Guillermo Martinez’s ritual involves great precision.
“I sit with my legs crossed with my foot pointing towards the opposition goal. In the second half, I cross my legs the other way around.”
His partner, Monica Gomez, keeps with her a stamp of Saint Expeditus, the patron of urgent causes, a photo of her daughter and a treasured Maradona autograph.
– ‘Crazy tradition’ –
Daniel ‘the Frog’ Valencia, a World Cup winner with Argentina in 1978, rejected an invitation from world football’s governing body FIFA to watch the final in Qatar because of “a crazy tradition”.
“My son got annoyed, he couldn’t understand why I didn’t travel and I told him he would understand me when he becomes a father,” Valencia told Radio AM750.
“I tell myself ‘look what you’re doing’, but I keep wearing my underpants back to front, we sit in the same place, even my children have adopted this custom.”
Cristian Oberosler, 54 and Lucrecia Airaldi, 50, are divorced but will watch the final together.
Airaldi watched Argentina’s first match with her current partner but for the second she was with her ex-husband and their daughter in a bar in Palermo.
They have kept that going for every match since and will repeat in “on Sunday at the same table reserved for the occasion.”
In the house of university student Ignacio Farone, 24, in Capital, his grandmother Clara, 86, “sits in the same chair with a photo of Maradona.”
But in some cases, the rigid ritual is not about a superstition.
Mario Losada, 44, says he gets so nervous that “I prefer to watch alone, football makes me very sick.”