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CULTURE | 26-12-2022 15:32

More than skin deep: Fans in Argentina line up for World Cup tattoos

Football fever continues to sweep Argentina, with fans and footballers alike inking themselves with images of Lionel Messi and the World Cup trophy.

Fans of the Argentina team that claimed football's ultimate prize in Qatar this month are lining up in Buenos Aires for tattoos of victorious captain Lionel Messi and the World Cup trophy.

Football fever is, quite literally, leaving its mark.

"For the next two weeks, I have [appointments] exclusively related to the World Cup," tattoo artist Esteban 'Tebi Cobra' Vucinovich told AFP in the capital.

"Some had already made an appointment for tattoos of snakes or skulls, but they are changing it to Messi or the Cup. I have two or three appointments a day," said the Palermo-based professional.

The most requested skin art is of the trophy, said Vucinovich, followed by Messi and then goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez who was crucial in Albiceleste’s victory in the final against France.

Many fans are inspired by the body art of Argentine players such as Ángel Di María, who has since recently sported a World Cup tattoo on his right leg.

"On the skin for all eternity. Thank you very much my friend. You had said it when we did the Copa América, the other leg was being saved for this moment. It was written. VAMOS ARGENTINA," Di Maria wrote as he posted a photo showing off the art.

 

‘Gesture of thinks’

"I got a tattoo of Messi as a gesture of thanks," civil servant Nicolás Rechanik told AFP.  "This represents not only what Messi is but also the team that brought us a third World Cup and all the years of effort to reach this goal."

Before getting the image of Messi in the team's sky-blue-and-white striped jersey and kissing the trophy indelibly attached to his left leg, Rechanik already sported the likeness of another  football icon: Diego Maradona.

"It's a perfect representation of what Argentine football is and what it means to be Argentine," he said. 

Football fanatic Alma Ocampo, 20, decided to get a tattoo when, to everyone's surprise, Argentina lost its first match of the World Cup to Saudi Arabia.

"When everyone lost confidence, I decided that... if Argentina wins, I will get a tattoo of the Cup. And so I did, with the date December 18, 2022" of the final, she said, adding "it hurt quite a bit."

Ariel Sacchi, a physical education teacher, got a tattoo representing all five World Cups that Messi has played in. At the centre is an image of the captain kissing the cup.

"I decided to get Leo [Messi] because he brought the greatest joy to all Argentines," Sacchi said.

Not all tattoos are equal, though, and many a fan has been mocked on social media for blundered ink: A fat-faced Messi or misspelt names are among the trending topics.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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