Argentina and Brazil have what is arguably the most intense rivalry in international soccer. The matches between the two countries, whether competitive or nominally “friendly,” are typically rough, tense affairs, with a history of nasty fouls and conspiracy theories. As is the case with most soccer “derbies,” fans also compete to come up with the most creative and insulting chants. But a group of Argentine World Cup fans have pushed the genre into new territory in a recent Youtube video.
The fans, wearing Argentina jerseys, are shown jumping in a circle and clapping as they hold a plastic spinal cord in the air and chant “Ole ole ole ole ola! Acá tenemos la columna de Neymar!” (Ole ole ole ole ola! Here we have Neymar’s back!”) According to reports in Brazilian media, the video was taken Saturday outside the Estádio Nacional de Brasília Mané Garrincha in Brasilia, where Argentina beat Belgium 1-0 to qualify for the semifinals.
A Twitter user captured the scene:
Another Instagram image of an Argentine fan holding a plastic spinal cord out of a bus window also received mention in Brazilian media on Sunday:
The chant and the plastic spinal cord are clear attempt to troll Brazilians about the injury sustained by Brazil’s star player, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, or Neymar Junior, who broke a vertebra in his lower back when he was kneed by Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zúñiga during an awkward challenge toward the end of a quarterfinal match Friday. The Brazilian Soccer Federation has asked FIFA to investigate the incident and punish Zúñiga.
The comments section of the video is predictably heated, with most users expressing dismay or disgust. The owner of the account that posted it, “Manuel Tascon,” defended the video, writing in Spanish that “It was a joke and nothing more” and explaining, “Brazil is a brother country and that, besides for soccer, we love them. It’s only a soccer rivalry, nothing more!”
Whatever you think of Tascon’s taste in chants, he does have a point: Outside the soccer pitch, Brazil and Argentina maintain good relations and are major trading partners. But Argentine fans have already made a name for themselves in the host country. An Argentine chant poking fun at Brazil has garnered the attention of Brazilian and international media. It begins “Brasil, decime qué se siente, tener en casa tu papá” (Brazil, how does it feel to, to have your daddy in your house).
La Albiceleste, as the Argentine national team is called, is one of the most talented teams in the world, but is not very popular in Latin America. A recent analysis in the New York Times headlined, “Why So Many World Cup Fans Dislike Argentina” includes a poll indicating that a plurality of fans in several countries chose Argentina when asked which team they were most rooting against. The Times explains that this is due in part to Argentina’s dominance of the sport in the 70’s and 80’s, and a general perception–or perhaps stereotype—of Argentine arrogance.
This video, which has gone viral in Brazil, will only stoke the flames further. Brazilians have been gripped by the saga of Neymar, and fans’ emotions are running high.
With both teams in the semifinals, they could play each other in the final on July 13. A World Cup final showdown would be an epic addition to one of the sport’s longest and richest rivalries. In the interest of everyone invoked, some simple advice for the most fervent fans in the blue and white shirts: Leave the plastic spinal cord and the Neymar chants at home.