Buenos Aires: Argentina`s President Cristina Fernandez admitted on Monday she had not watched a single one of the country`s matches in the World Cup soccer tournament, including the final, a blunder that some observers said exposed her as out of touch with the national mood.
A day after soccer-mad Argentina lost the World Cup final to Germany by a score of 1-0, Fernandez received the national team in the capital, giving each of the downbeat players, dressed in black suits and ties, a consolatory hug.
Fernandez had earlier declined an invitation from Brazil`s President Dilma Rousseff to attend the final, saying she was recovering form a sore throat. Her counterpart, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, attended the match, even leaping with joy at Germany`s winning goal.
In a televised speech, Fernandez, flanked by Lionel Messi and the rest of the team, said: "As you know I`m no soccer fan."
"I didn`t see a single match, not even the one yesterday," she said, adding that she rang Argentine Coach Alejandro Sabella after the match because it felt like the team had won.
"That`s how I felt and how 40 million Argentines felt too."
Although not entirely surprising given her well-known disinterest in the sport, Fernandez`s comments will do little to endear herself to a country obsessed by soccer and left heartbroken by the defeat.
Despite her best intentions, analysts said Fernandez, who cannot run in next year`s election, failed to capture the national mood.
"It sort of underscores that she lives in a world of her own more and more," said Felipe Noguera, a political analyst.
"This has been a very positive month for the country and for the overall mood. And she`s just not part of it," he added.
The team`s run to the tournament final handed Argentina`s 40 million people a rare chance to wipe from their minds the country`s latest debt crisis, surging prices and political scandals.
Some fans took to social media site Twitter to vent their derision toward Fernandez.
"There is poverty, she doesn`t see it. There is insecurity, she doesn`t see it. Argentina`s in the final, she doesn`t see it. CFK blind woman," said one Twitter user, using the president`s initials.
The players had been expected to head to Buenos Aires` iconic Obelisk monument in the afternoon to greet fans who partied there until late last night, celebrating their team`s performance with dancing, drummers and firecrackers.
The festivities turned sour when dozens of hooligans hurled bricks and bottles as riot police replied with tear gas and water canons.
More than a dozen police officers were injured and 120 people detained, local media said.
Argentina`s soccer federation said Monday`s homecoming party had been canceled due to transport concerns.