'Me, not hooligan, I am here to watch soccer'
Zapata Marcos David was so desperate to watch his national team play yesterday that he begged almost every passing motorist to take him to the stadium.
David, 34, from Argentina, was standing outside Christian Progressive College on Andries Street in Pretoria central at about midday. With tears in his eyes, he told a Sowetan team he had arrived last week to watch his national team's progress in the World Cup.
While admitting that he had no ticket for the match between Argentina and South Korea at Soccer City, he said he would watch the match live.
"Please take me to Johannesburg," he begged the Sowetan team.
Wearing his Argentina soccer jersey, black tracksuit pants, black sneakers and a black bag strapped on his back, David insisted he would watch the game despite not having a ticket. "I am going to the stadium. My country is playing Korea now."
While the Sowetan team explained that they were at the college to interview Argentinian hooligans who were staying in the college, David jumped into the back seat of the car. "I can see," he said while pointing at the camera and mimicking taking pictures.
He seemed oblivious to the fact that Soccer City was about 70km away. "I was asleep and my friends left me. I don't know where they are but I want to go watch the game."
He denied that he was a hooligan despite staying with 165 other Argentinian fans at the college. On Wednesday, police raided the college and detained 17 hooligans, who are to be deported this week.
"Me, not hooligan, I am here to watch soccer," David said vehemently.
When he realised that we were not taking him to Soccer City, David jumped out of our car and said he was going to his room. We approached the security guard Prince Leta to chat while we waited for David to come back.
Leta told us that David had left while we spoke. He had disappeared into the peak-hour traffic. He said the men behaved themselves. "They have not done anything wrong so far. They like drinking and enjoying themselves."
We waited in vain for David's return after the match.