Putin congratulates Argentina
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Argentina on their World Cup success in a call with his counterpart from the South American country, Alberto Fernandez, the Kremlin said on Sunday.
Argentina claimed a third World Cup title in their history with a thrilling penalty shootout victory over defending champions France at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar, after the match ended 3-3 following extra time.
“Vladimir Putin has just had a telephone conversation with Argentine President [Alberto] Fernandez,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Peskov noted that the Russian leader “warmly congratulated his colleague” on Argentina’s success, which was their first at the World Cup since 1986.
In response, Fernandez thanked Putin for the call in a social media message, writing: “May the joy that unites Argentina with so many people of the world serve as example: our societies need peace and unity.”
Fernandez had watched the final from home, rather than traveling to Qatar.
French counterpart Emmanuel Macron did make the trip but was left disappointed as the team were unable to defend the title they won in Russia four years ago.
Macron’s presence in Qatar has stirred controversy back in France, given that the Middle Eastern nation is at the center of a corruption scandal involving the EU Parliament.
Macron’s trips to Qatar, where he also watched the semifinal between France and Morocco, are said to have cost French taxpayers around €500,000 ($530,000), according to national media.
On Sunday, Macron was seen consoling star French forward Kylian Mbappe on the pitch after the final ended in disappointment.
Mbappe had dragged his team back into the game with a late double approaching the end of the 90 minutes, before completing his hat-trick in extra time – making him only the second ever player to a score a treble in a World Cup final.
But Argentine talisman Lionel Messi was on target twice during the game and, like Paris Saint-Germain teammate Mbappe, also scored in the shootout as Argentina prevailed 4-2 on penalties.
The victory for Argentina trigged wild celebrations among their large contingent of fans in Qatar, as well as back in South America as thousands flocked to the streets.
Russian leader Putin had been on hand at the World Cup final four years ago at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, where France enjoyed happier times in a 4-2 win against Croatia.