Every woman who looked to be of grandmother age was serenaded with a chant that has become a rallying cry of this year’s World Cup in Argentina: “Abuela, la, la, la, la, la.” The chant, of the Spanish word for grandmother, began in Buenos Aires after one of Argentina’s victories, when a group of young men sang it to a dancing older woman who wore a medical mask and wrapped herself in a flag.
“She still doesn’t know why everyone is singing to her but she loves it,” said Silvia Belvedere of her 89-year-old mother, Nelida Peralta, who was standing on the sidewalk along the procession, gripping a cane and waving two small Argentina flags. As the procession passed, each group that noticed her stopped to serenade her and take photos.
“I’m so happy,” Ms. Peralta said. “I can’t go there, so I’m staying here waving the flag.”
Farther down the avenue, a group of Bangladeshi immigrants were greeted warmly by the marching fans. Bangladesh’s love for Argentina’s national soccer team has become a major storyline here, and so Argentines parading down the route stopped for photos and high fives. One of the men from Bangladesh, who said he had lived in Buenos Aires for 24 years, said he had never felt more connected to his adopted home.
Along the route, Argentines expressed their joy with whatever was at hand. Cars stuck at intersections watching the procession beeped incessantly; one man banged a pan with a spoon. And over and over again, the crowd sang this year’s anthem of the Argentina national team, “Muchachos, Ahora Nos Volvimos A Ilusionar” — or “Guys, Now We’re Getting Excited Again.”
The song has become a sort of celebratory hymn in Argentina over the past several weeks, and it speaks of Argentina’s late soccer star, Diego Maradona, a sort of deity in this country, looking down from the sky to help Messi and his teammates bring Argentina another World Cup. After the song’s prediction came to fruition on Sunday, it was the soundtrack of the march.