Kerala in euphoria as beloved Argentina lifts Copa America By Rohit Thayyil

·3-min read

Kochi, Jul 11 (PTI) The striped blue and white flags waved high and mighty as scores of jubilant fans thronged the streets of Kerala, the deafening rev of their motorcycles matching the sheer exhilaration they felt as beloved Argentina lifted the 2021 Copa America title in a distant continent two oceans away.

In the wee hours of Sunday, Kerala was as charged as any Latin American street, as two soccer giants clashed at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Kerala, the southernmost state in the country, would have celebrated thesame way even if the game played out differently, which shows its love towards Latin American football and footballers.

In Kerala, this sport unites people beyond socio-political differences and it was evident with the friendly banter between two senior Left political leaders and former cabinet colleagues M M Mani and Kadakampally Surendran at the beginning of the Copa America season.

While Mani is a diehard fan of Argentina, Surendran was with the canaries.

Even Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday took to Facebook and said itwasbeautiful to watch the victory of Argentina and 'crowning of the world star' Lionel Messi! 'The beauty of football lies in the brotherhood that transcends boundaries and that's why Kerala has lakhs of fans to shout for Argentina and Brazil.. It was the humanity, brotherhood and sportsmanship of football that won the match,' Vijayan posted after the game.

Mani too posted a beaming picture of himself watching his favourite team winning the match.

Social media was also abuzz with trolls and funny videos by Kerala fans of either team.

One viral video shows an Argentina fan dancing in celebration with his shirt off in front of a disappointed Brazil fan and the latter ends up chasing theyouth with his plastic chair.

Even ESPN Argentina, shared a video of Argentina fans in Kerala riding through the streets in joy.

Meanwhile, in Malappuram district two Argentina fans got injured amid celebrations involving firecrackers.

'My team lost. However, I am happy that I could watch the match. The beauty of Latin American football could be seen but it was sad to watch certain harsh moves.

Congratulations to Argentina. They played well.. But Neymar's tears remain as an ache,' senior Congress leader and Opposition Leader in the state Assembly, V D Satheeshan posted on Facebook.

The occasion was doubly sweet as the win over arch rival Brazil also put anend to their long wait for a major title which had proved elusive for decades.

'Last time Argentina won an international trophy was the year I was born. I'm 28 now and crying like a kid!' a fan who goes by the handle @thesaudadeguy, tweeted.

Another fan, who was a spectator at the Maracana posted a video of himself from the stadium describing how his team beat Brazil to win the title.

'We scored a goal but it was offside,' a teary-eyed boy from Thiruvananthapuram wearing a yellow jerseywas seen talking to the media.

A few days before the final, media reports showed a father and son in Pathanamthitta district who painted each half of their house in colours of the two nations.

Many also performed special flowerofferings in temples (pushpanjali) for Messi and for the Argentina football team seeking an auspiciouswin, with receipts of the offerings going viral too.

Arguably, Kerala has the most number of fans for Latin American football teams Argentina and Brazil outside that continent.

Fans celebrate their matches with the same or perhaps even a bit more fervour than they do for cricket. PTI RRT ROH ROH

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