Despite Loss, Argentina Celebrates World Cup Final
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ Thousands of soccer fans, many wrapped in the national flag, filled the capital’s streets Sunday to mark their team’s second place finish in World Cup soccer.
The fans shouted, sang, danced and blew horns and whistles to celebrate, despite Argentina’s 1-0 loss to West Germany in Rome. Argentina was the defending champion.
″Win or lose, we love the national team,″ chanted more than 3,000 celebrating fans gathered in the Plaza of the Republic in Buenos Aires.
President Carlos Menem, who watched the game on a giant television screen in Government House, echoed the sentiments of many fans when he said that West Germany played masterfully.
However, he also criticized the referee who awarded the penalty shot that allowed Germany to score its lone goal with just six minutes left.
″Germany took the ball and dominated play,″ said Menem in a statement. ″Argentina was an incomplete team, and we lost with an unfair goal because the penalty was not merited.″
″As far as the referee is concerned,″ Menem added, ″he should take up medicine.″ Referee Edgardo Codesal ordered the penalty shot and expelled Argentina’s Pedro Monzon late in the game.
Jose Maria Pedrazo, a fan, said Argentina ″was lucky to reach the finals and West Germany deserved the victory - but not that kind of victory, not on a penalty.″
Pedrazo and his wife, Elvira, were in the Plaza of the Republic joining the celebrations.
Sunday was treated like a national holiday in Argentina. The sky-blue and white national flag was hung from windows and balconies of thousands of high- rise apartments. Many Argentines called friends to organize parties to watch the game.
Sidewalk entrepreneurs sold flags, hats, and banners with a likeness of Diego Maradona, Argentina’s team captain.
Police, seeking to head off a repeat of the vandalism and looting that followed Argentina’s semi-finals victory over Italy, stationed 5,000 officers in the downtown area.
Two people were killed and 200 arrested in incidents after the win over Italy.