Sports46 minimum wages to see Messi: Argentines give their lives for a...

    46 minimum wages to see Messi: Argentines give their lives for a ticket to the final

    Luciano Franco is 21 years old and is a butcher in La Plata, capital of the province of Buenos Aires. At 5 in the morning on Friday he is at the Ezeiza international airport. He takes his cell phone, looks at it, turns it off, puts it away. He will do this several times in a few minutes. He has gotten up to his neck in debt to watch the Argentina final against France this Sunday, and if the Qatari government does not approve him within three hours, the Hayya digital card – a visa disguised as an application – will remain on the ground. “I have a hotel and tickets, but the approval of the Hajjah is missing,” he says nervously. Like Franco, in Ezeiza there are another 264 passengers who have jumped to the Aerolineas Argentinas website as soon as Messi’s team beat Croatia in the semifinals. They found a charter flight in a hurry, clicked on “buy” and in a few seconds they loaded two million pesos on their credit card. Then they chose accommodation, got tickets – those they found – and waited for the “approval” of the blessed Hayya. At the end of the day they had spent an average of 7,550 dollars, equivalent in pesos to 46 minimum wages. An exorbitant sum by the standards of a country in crisis like Argentina.

    Terminal C of the airport was abuzz in the early hours of Friday. To the usual passengers were added those of the direct flight to Qatar. It was easy to recognize them by the Argentina national team jerseys. The excitement of an adventure undertaken in a hurry was mixed with the nerves of the visa and a silent feeling of guilt. “Let’s not talk about numbers, at this point money doesn’t matter anymore,” says Daniel, a 46-year-old architect who agrees to pose for the photo but keeps his last name. Daniel returned from Qatar on Monday after watching the first matches with his children. He already gave up the possibility of being in the stadium for the final, but his friends convinced him. “I had resigned myself, but when these weirdos said ‘let’s go’, I was hooked. We reserved the tickets at halftime of the semifinal with the travel agency and as soon as the game ended they issued them, ”he says. Next to him is Pedro, the friend of the ‘let’s go, let’s go’, a 51-year-old merchant who travels with his 16-year-old son. Pedro is a regular: he was in Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018.

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    State-owned Aerolineas Argentinas has made the route to Qatar a matter of state. Since the start of the Cup, it has transported 3,500 Argentines on direct flights and another 500 in alliance with other airlines. On December 19 and 21, three planes loaded with fans will take off from Qatar, as well as another that will transport the team to Buenos Aires. The promotional campaign has collided head-on with the efforts of the Casa Rosada to prevent dollars from leaving the country. The Central Bank is dry of reserves and to discourage tourism from the locals, it charges extraordinary taxes on credit card expenses abroad. There is a “Qatar dollar” in Argentina, which is quoted at 357 pesos, against the 178 pesos of the official one. The figure did not scare the 528 fans who rushed out tickets for the flight on Friday morning and another scheduled for the night. “It is a considerable amount, but it is Argentina and the national team,” explains Jose Luis, a 55-year-old travel agent who also prefers not to give his last name.

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    Fans wait at the airport in Argentina to board the flight to Doha.
    Fans wait at the airport in Argentina to board the flight to Doha.Guadalupe Aizaga

    In Ezeiza there were single people, complete families and groups of friends. Behind an inflatable dinosaur that travels like an amulet are Catalina and Santino, 18 and 15-year-old siblings who cannot hide their euphoria. “We are leaving with the whole family. We are very excited! It’s a gift because we behave very well!” they shout, and laugh. Juliana Ruffa, a 24-year-old electronic engineering student, waits for her turn to board, accompanied by her father, two brothers and some friends. “It’s all crazy, I was preparing for exams,” she says. “When the semifinal match ended, we all looked at each other and said ‘we’re leaving.’ It was a bit of saving, a bit of debt, and a bit of borrowing. We are going to forget about it until we return, ”she says. Her traveling companion is called Manuela Freire and she has just graduated in Tourism. The trip is an end-of-course gift. “If you can, there is no Argentine who would say no,” she says.

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    Fans confirm tickets to Qatar on their phones.
    Fans confirm tickets to Qatar on their phones. Guadalupe Aizaga

    Not everyone received such a gift. Pablo Perez, 39, works in the Judiciary and says that he requested a loan. “In Argentina they don’t let you pay in installments with a card, so the ticket is cash and very expensive, in one payment. No matter how much I asked, it was a lot, ”he says resignedly. Perez travels without a ticket for the final, but he is confident that he will get it once at his destination. With only half an hour to go until the flight leaves, Luciano Franco, the butcher, catches his breath: he has just received a “pass” in Hajjah and will fly to Qatar.

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    Source: EL PAIS

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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