‘Messi is our God’: Lionel Messi inspires a worldwide pilgrimage to Qatar World Cup

His worshippers have come from Singapore and Los Angeles, from Egypt and Nigeria and Iraq. They’ve come in droves from all parts of Argentina, but also en masse from India. Almost a million people have descended on Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, and tens of thousands are here as devout followers of one man and one team, Lionel Messi and Argentina. Only a fraction of them, though — perhaps a minority — are Argentinean.

They’ve come from China via Denmark, from Australia and Korea and Bangladesh. They’ve come from metropolises and remote villages, from nearby and from afar. They speak dozens of different languages and practice several different religions but, above all, they share one.

“Messi,” said Amrita, a middle-aged fanatic from India, “is our God.”

She was sitting outside a McDonald’s in Lusail on Friday with her husband and Messi-loving friends, amid a growing sea of white and sky blue, and as part of a pilgrimage. Hours before Argentina and the Netherlands met in a World Cup quarterfinal for the ages, the areas around the Lusail Stadium filled with jerseys bearing His iconic No. 10 and His five-letter name. There were surely thousands of them among the 88,235 people inside the Lusail, and thousands more who packed Doha Metro’s red line but exited a few stops early for fan festivals or the city’s buzzing hub, Souq Waqif.

And their power, their collective story, is in their diversity. 스포츠토토 They are irrefutable evidence that Messi, who is here explicitly to play for one country, Argentina, has touched souls from dozens of countries, and likely more than 100 spanning the entire globe.

Hundreds of millions of those souls will gather around TVs on Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET, and 10 p.m. in Kenya, and 4 a.m. in Japan, to watch the World Cup semifinal between Argentina and Croatia. But thousands of the more privileged ones have paid thousands of dollars to travel to Qatar for Messi’s last dance.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Shakib, a “diehard” Messi fan from California. He’d saved up money, prayed for an Argentina run, and decided to splash his cash.

“Money comes and goes, but this experience will never come again,” Shakib said while adjusting the Palestinean scarf that he’d draped over his Messi jersey. “I had to come witness him play his [likely final] World Cup.”

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