They flooded the cities of their rival—an estimated 100,000 Argentines were in Rio for the World Cup Final on Sunday. They came in caravans and campers and old taxis and whatever could bring them from their homes in Rosário, La Pampa, Santa Fé, Santa Rosa, Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Mendoza. They slept and ate and screwed and drank and maybe even tangoed at their temporary home at the Samba-drome, a concrete dance pavilion where they had been sequestered for the city’s safety and their own.
In Buenos Aires after the loss, Argentina rioted a little, but in Rio, the loyal fans took their loss in peace. Photographer Eduardo Leal spent the last weeks following the Argentines’ journey through the tournament, from the early tight games to the final wundervolley that sank them. There were other fervent fans that made a showing, from Iranians to Chileans, but for sheer determination, emotion, and size of pilgrimage, the supporters of La Albiceleste would clearly deserve this tournament’s Golden Winnebago, if such a thing existed.