• Osvaldo Santander is part of FIFA #FanMovement
  • The Argentinian opens up about his relationship with football and the World Cup
  • “Glory, very few of them are entitled to it, but the party is for everyone!”

The passion of Argentina’s fans is well known and has been particularly highlighted during the last two FIFA World Cups ™. Whether in Brazil or Russia, the fervor of fans for their national team has reached unprecedented levels. Fans of theAlbiceleste went in droves to the stadiums, which they brightened up with their catchy chants and their usual colors.

In this testimony, an Argentinian member of FIFA Fan Movement, Osvaldo Santander, tells in first person his relationship with the sport he loves so much, but also how he felt sharing his passion with other fans around the world during the last two editions of the supreme event .

“My name is Osvaldo Santander, I am 55 years old, I have a degree in advertising, but I am Argentinian above all. I emphasize this because it is directly linked to the passion for football, fanaticism and love unconditional for the round ball.

I have been going to the stadium since I was 3 years old. At that time, my father already took me to see the matches of my favorite club, San Lorenzo de Almagro. From that moment, a passion was born with me and has not stopped growing. It has made me a member of a great football family who live the matches to the fullest, catch fire in front of a goal, suffer because of a defeat and let their emotions speak for themselves.

It was a FIFA World Cup, that of Germany 1974, which remained engraved in my heart forever. I was 9 years old and I was hunting for stickers to fill my album. It was impossible, but I ended up watching all the matches on TV in black and white. With the 1978 World Cup that followed in Argentina, that’s what sealed my love for football forever.

My life revolves around the World Cups: if I want to remember what happened when I was 25, I think of Italy 1990; and if I try to remember what I was doing in 2006, my reference is the World Cup in Germany. It’s like that for everything.

I have also been collecting football-related objects for over thirty years, especially those related to the World Cups. Football gives me joy, fantasy and a love that will fill me forever.

My crazy passion for the World Cups led me to spend two weeks in Brazil in 2014. I had fantastic moments of sharing there. A total celebration, exchanges of shirts, scarves, flags… I even attended Algeria – Republic of Korea without expecting much and in the end, it gave a huge match (4-2 victory of Algeria)! There, I made up my mind to go to Russia 2018!

FIFA Fan Movement Osvaldo Santander
© Others

I had come back delighted with Porto Alegre and I told myself that it was going to be complicated: the plane, the tickets for the matches, the stay … My friends told me I was crazy. But nothing diverted me from my goal.

The first positive signal came from FIFA, which awarded me tickets for the seven matches I requested, all in Moscow. In these matches, there was the possibility of seeing Argentina play, but there were two qualifying days to play and it was complicated.

Fortunately, we qualified and it gave me some balm in my heart. These tickets were not only for me, but also for my son Julián (the accomplice of my footballing peregrinations), my sister María Mercedes and a friend who joined the adventure from the start.

Then we bought the plane tickets. Eight months before the World Cup, we had the most important!

The months leading up to the start were very emotional. We met other supporters who joined us and I tried to organize a reunion with people from other countries with whom I keep in touch, collectors for the most part, who were also going to make this extraordinary trip.

As we were going to stay 18 days in Moscow, we rented an apartment near the Luzhniki Stadium, behind Moscow University.

FIFA Fan Movement Osvaldo Santander
© Others

Then the journey began. During our eight hour layover in Frankfurt, I was looking for a way to kill time so I spread the flags that we had brought with us on the ground. Suddenly, other supporters did the same, which immediately created a truly magical fraternity around the World Cup.

Russia 2018 was a concentrate of happiness and emotions. Everything was organized impeccably. The authorities were cordial but strict at the same time, which allowed us to experience an event full of passion, but in a well-controlled setting, without fights or anything of the sort. And that is remarkable.

If I can give one advice, it’s to arrive a few days before the start of the competition. We arrived four days before and we met all the supporters in a state of absolute euphoria. There were no results to celebrate or to deplore. Everything was to be written.

We didn’t have tickets for the opening so we went to Fan Fest early. The word fabulous is too weak to describe what to come. We had seen the same thing in Brazil before, but there it was on a different scale. At the half-time between Russia and Saudi Arabia, we got closer to the stadium, just to find objects for our museum: glasses that were thrown in the trash, accreditations, derivative products. Of all !

Two days later, we went to see our Argentinian armada against Iceland at the Spartak Stadium. We went there with our jerseys, caps and flags, as well as stickers and 300 coasters that we gave to people we passed.

The moment our hymn sounded was very emotional. With my son, we shed our tears because a few months before, the one who is at the origin of this love for the football, my father (his grandfather, Paco), had gone to heaven. We had the feeling that he was by our side. The result takes a back seat. The joy of traveling this far to cheer on our national team has been unforgettable.

Then there were the matches Germany – Mexico, Poland – Senegal, Portugal – Morocco, Belgium – Tunisia, Denmark – France and the last meeting of our adventure: Brazil – Serbia. Fantastic encounters for our museum: we collected swimsuits, inflatable objects, tickets, glasses and many other things.

We embarked on the return trip with the qualification of Argentina in the suitcases and the memories of an unforgettable experience. And all this for what ? Because football is unpredictable: you can win or lose, but you never come back empty-handed because you fill up with stories and moments that you will remember forever.

It’s amazing the number of people you meet at a World Cup. It is really very varied and open to all. You jump and sing arm in arm with a whole bunch of people. And you realize that you are with a German, an Ecuadorian, a Senegalese, a Romanian. We even met someone from Nepal! That’s wonderful !

A World Cup isn’t all about players, managers and technical staff trying to win a trophy. It is the union of citizens of the world who vibrate together for the same passion, for the same feeling. Glory, very few of them are entitled to it, but the party is for everyone! Long live football !!! “

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