Argentina’s ‘first fan’ reached Qatar six months early

  • Marcelo Martinez came to the World Cup from November to December in May
  • Thousands of Argentines expected in Qatar
  • Qataris love Messi and Argentina, says the lawyer

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s self-proclaimed ‘first fan’ Marcelo Martinez is so excited to see Lionel Messi and his team-mates at the World Cup that he arrived in Qatar six months early.

The first traveling Argentinian fan – and possibly the first visiting fan point – flew to Doha on May 3 wearing his blue and white wig and has been having a blast ever since.

“Wonderful things have happened,” said the 54-year-old lawyer, who has found many Qataris and expatriates wearing Argentinian jerseys. “They all love Messi and Argentina here.”

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Martinez hopes Messi will finally lift the trophy in his fifth and final World Cup final after winning so many other honors in the game.

Martinez, who had plenty of time on his hands, was able to serenade Argentina’s Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes when they visited Doha with Paris St Germain earlier this year.

“I stood in the door of the hotel and waited for her with my Argentinian flag and wig. Someone came by and asked me what I was doing, took my number and offered me their house for two months, which ended up being three,” he said.

“I didn’t have to do anything except take care of his pets while he traveled to Argentina.”

Some local clubs have contacted Martinez to invite him to their games. After one game, he was presented with his jersey by fellow Argentinian Sergio Javier Vittor, who plays for Qatar’s Al-Sailiya.


Several thousand Argentines are expected to descend on Qatar for the tournament which starts next month, but not all have it easy.

Engineers Federico Guevara and Justina Aguirre Saraviaandi, both 32, flew to Barcelona in late April, bought a motorhome and embarked on the trip of a lifetime to Qatar.

But they have just learned that they will not be able to travel to Qatar and sleep in their vehicle as planned and are asking the Argentine Embassy and Football Federation for help.

“We started with the same idea that Qatar opens its doors to the world, we checked everything,” said Guevara from a stopover in Bulgaria. “But they changed the rules. We have tickets, everything sorted. Then they do it two months before.”

Qatar requires all drivers wishing to import vehicles after November 1 to apply for a special permit, which costs $1,370.

Despite this problem, Guevara and Saraviaandi enjoyed the trip as far as it took it.

“In Croatia, in every small village, there is a kid wearing a Messi shirt,” said Guevara. “In Montenegro we got lost and ended up on a little street and there was a mural of Diego (Maradona) that said ‘Farewell Golden Kid!’

“In the middle of Montenegro.”

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Reporting by Ramiro Scandalo; Additional reporting by Andrew Mills in Doha; writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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