Argentina to back Bangladesh soccer, honor World Cup fan-following

Dhaka, Feb 28 (EFE).- Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero on Tuesday pledged his country’s help for the development of soccer in Bangladesh, as a sign of gratitude for the passionate support shown by Bangladeshi fans for the Argentine team during the Qatar World Cup.

Cafiero – on a three-day state visit to the country – arrived at the Bangladesh Football Federation office on Tuesday to talk with soccer officials and discuss options for possible cooperation.

“Today we had a very interesting meeting with the football federation,” the minister told EFE after the meeting, a day after he signed a memorandum of understanding for sports development with his Bangladesh counterpart.

“We are honored to be here. (…) We feel at home due to all the support during the World Cup,” the minister told the BFF officials.

In the MoU, which will be in place for four years initially, Buenos Aires has pledged support to develop the Bangladeshi national team, age-group teams, refereeing, coaching, coach exchange, team visit, and providing training facilities in Argentina, BFF general secretary Abu Nayeem Sohag told EFE.

“Both countries will have separate working committees, and they will from time to time set up priorities. We would like our Under-18 and Under-19 women’s and men’s teams to train in Argentina,” he added.

Sebastian Perez Escobar, a representative of top Argentine club River Plate, has accompanied Cafiero to Bangladesh and held a meeting with the top five local clubs to explore the possibilities of setting up an academy in Bangladesh, which would be the club’s first such facility outside South America and Europe.

Bangladesh is one of the few Asian countries known for its passion for soccer, despite never having achieved significant success internationally.

Images of Bangladeshi fans celebrating Argentina’s victory at the Qatar 2022 World Cup had gone viral around the world, although the locals’ support for the South American teams dates back to the 1986 World Cup, when Diego Maradona had scored a historic brace to defeat England – Bangladesh’s former colonizers – in the quarterfinals.

On Monday, Cafiero reopened the Argentine embassy in Bangladesh, more than 40 years after it was shut down by the military dictatorship of Jorge Videla, with soccer playing a key role in the resumption of strong bilateral ties. EFE


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