This is actually pretty incredible. After the ugly scenes that have greeted many losing teams on their return home from the World Cup — Brazil, Italy and England all faced hostile receptions — the Argentine government took extensive security measures to protect players from angry fans when the team landed in Buenos Aires on Sunday night. Police blocked access routes to the airport, and the players were bused directly from the tarmac to the Argentina Football Association headquarters without passing through the airport building.
But 15,000 fans turned up anyway. And surprisingly, they gave the team a supportive and enthusiastic welcome despite its 4-0 quarterfinal loss to Germany. Fans lined the route into the city, cheering, chanting, waving flags and setting off fireworks. Many people held up signs urging Diego Maradona to stay on as manager.
Of course, there's no telling how representative this crowd is of Argentine fans as a whole. But no team had higher expectations, or went out in a more catastrophic way. And in a year when supporters of the top teams seem to feel increasingly entitled and outraged, it's nice to see a display like this from a group of fans who didn't turn on their team simply because they lost.