Great joy in Saudi Arabia after the victory over Argentina


Saudi soccer fans at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh as they watch their team’s match against Argentina at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on November 22, 2022. afp_tickers

This content was published on 22 Nov 2022 – Jul 15:49,

(AFP)

Saudi fans danced in circles in the streets and waved their country’s green flags from the windows of fast-moving cars after their team’s surprise win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina.

As soon as the referee’s whistle blew and heralded Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 win in their opening group game, ending a 36-match unbeaten run for the Latin side, fans watched the game on a big screen in a stadium in the capital, Riyadh, watched. , threw hookah hoses as they rushed to celebrate the victory.

Fans believed that this win would help put the Gulf region on the world football map.

“Nothing is impossible for Saudi Arabia,” Tariq al-Shammari (35) told AFP. “The future is here and we are the future.”

“We have people who love football and worship it,” said another, Sultan, who wore a white dress and wrapped his shoulders in a green and white scarf.

“We are investing in infrastructure and we have all the capabilities to compete with European countries,” he added.

The scenes of joy at the end of the game, with some fans wiping away tears of joy, contrasted sharply with the quieter first half, in which Argentina took the lead with a goal from Messi, with the referee allowing three more goals for the Latin span for offside.

The applause at the end of the first half went to the referees, who kept the result of the match, with Argentina advancing by just one goal.

The comeback for the “Green Hawks” team started with Saleh Al-Shehri scoring the equalizer in the 48th minute, before Salem Al-Dosari gave his country the lead after five minutes.

As the excitement grew, some fans abandoned their places in the food truck lines on the edge of the field and waited in front of the screen until the end of the game.

As the second half drew to a close, the nervous crowd chanted enthusiastic cheers after every clear save by goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais.

“I’m so happy… Nobody in Saudi Arabia expected this, but they did it,” said a fan who identified herself as Bayan after the 14-minute stoppage time ended.

– All night party –

Riyadh is preparing to celebrate all night as congratulations pour in from senior Saudi officials on Twitter.

And the Saudi monarch, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, issued a decision to consider Wednesday a day off for the private and public sectors and for students, on the occasion of the victory.

And in the middle of Doha, hundreds of the “Green Hawks” fans gathered, waving their country’s flags and singing enthusiastic chants, under the gaze of the Argentine fans, who were overwhelmed with grief and shock.

The victory raised the ambitions of the Saudi fans to pass the group stage for the first time since the 1994 World Cup.

Majed Abdullah, 24, wearing his country’s green shirt, said: “We won against Argentina, and all we hope now is to go to the next stage and go far in the championship.”

To celebrate the sudden and great victory, Turki Al-Sheikh, adviser to the Royal Court and head of the General Entertainment Authority in Saudi Arabia, announced on Twitter that access to some of the major theme parks and major entertainment centers in the city will be . free.

And Messi, the best player in the world 7 times, is no stranger to Saudi Arabia as he is an ambassador for tourism in the oil-rich Gulf kingdom which is seeking to diversify its economy.

However, Saudis on Twitter were quick to cheer his defeat, with one photo showing a man in a white robe roasting a goat, representing the Messi who is sometimes referred to as the greatest of all time.

For their part, some officials and advisers described the win as a victory for the reform agenda adopted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who relies heavily on sports to try to improve the kingdom’s hardline image.

Riyadh is frequently accused of using the hosting of sporting events, such as professional golf tournaments and Formula One races, in an attempt to cover up rights abuses, a practice known as “sportswashing”.

Saudi Arabia may try to host the World Cup soon.

Last September, an official reported that Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia had entered into talks to submit a joint application to host the 2030 World Cup.

Ali Al-Shihabi, a Saudi analyst close to the government, said on Twitter that Tuesday’s victory was “a tangible result of the great efforts made in the last five years to develop Saudi sports and youth. What ‘ a wonderful confirmation of this tremendous effort.”

And he continued: “To all those shouting at Saudi Arabia: Sportswashing. Enjoy the result.”

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