DOHA, Qatar — Yerba mate is not, to be fair, for everyone.
A strong and often bitter herbal infusion brewed hot or cold from the leaves of a plant native to South America, yerba partner is popular in Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina. Some associated with the best soccer players in the world hail from that region and swear by it, and they have spread it around the world through their club teams. The World Mug in Qatar, though, raised some logistical and supply challenges, not least of which was: Where would devotees find yerba mate in the Gulf?
So they came prepared. Brazil’s national team, which has a few mate drinkers, brought 26 pounds of this to Qatar, a team official said. Uruguay’s squad packed about 530 lbs. But it was Argentina, which will face Croatia within the semifinals on Tuesday fully expecting to extend its stay through Sunday’s final, that will topped them all. To ensure that the particular roughly 75 members of its traveling party — gamers, coaches, trainers and the rest — would have a steady supply of a drink they consider essential, Argentina’s team hauled a whopping 1, 100 pounds of yerba mate to Qatar.
“It has caffeine, ” Argentine midfielder Alexis Mac Allister said in Spanish while explaining why he consumed so much of the drink that some have likened to the stronger green tea. “But I consume it more than anything in order to bring us together. ”
A spokesman for Argentina’s national team, Nicolás Novello, said the particular team introduced different types to suit everyone’s taste: yerba mate with stems (a milder taste), without stems (a stronger, more bitter taste) and with herbs (for other flavors). Observers stated nearly everyone, including the team’s star, Lionel Messi, was drinking it; the team’s devotion in order to the drink was clear every time it unloaded its group bus, plus after matches, a handful of players would carry out the traditional mate essentials: a cup made of a hollow gourd, its accompanying straw and a thermos of hot water.
Drinking lover is so commonplace within the Argentine and Uruguayan teams, in particular, that the latter made the thermos, known as Botija in Spanish, its official mascot . A large blue mascot’s outfit even produced it to Qatar, where it struggled to fit through the turnstiles of the metro system within Doha.
“When I played in Argentina, a nutritionist used to say mate hydrates you, ” said Sebastián Driussi, the midfielder for Austin F. C. in Major League Soccer. Driussi represented Argentina at the youth level internationally and spent three years along with the well-known Argentine club River Plate. “I don’t know, but it’s like water for us. Before a game, in the particular locker room, everyone is drinking it all the time. There is no schedule or even bad time to have partner. Us within Argentina, we say that mate makes friendships. ”
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Juan José Szychowski, the president of the National Institute associated with Yerba Partner in Argentina, said there is an art in order to perfecting the particular brew, along with every drinker preferring slightly different variations, from sweet to sour, hot to cold.
“If you start drinking lover, you won’t stop, ” Szychowski mentioned in a telephone interview. “It’s more than just a custom. Whenever someone comes over, all of us tell them, ‘You should have several mate. ’ It’s sharing and something social and good for your health. ”
Szychowski said companion, which has been originally taken by the region’s Indigenous residents before it was distribute by Jesuit missionaries, contains polyphenols, the compound that has antioxidant properties. Some studies, he added, have suggested that the beverage can have a positive effect on health.
The influence, and the particular example, of mate-drinking gamers from South America such as Messi, Uruguay’s Luis Suárez and Brazil’s Neymar — who used to be club teammates at Barcelona — have led some other players to adopt the practice.
Antoine Griezmann, a fixture in the France group that will play within the semifinals on Wednesday, took up the particular habit right after befriending the Uruguayan players Cristian Rodríguez and José María Giménez when they were teammates at Atlético Madrid. Griezmann has said that he now drinks it daily. Another French star, Paul Pogba, said within 2018 that he got hooked on mate after one associated with his Manchester United teammates at the time — Marcos Rojo, an Argentine — gave him some of his own infusion.
“It’s perfect, ” Pogba told an Argentine television channel . “I loved this. ”
Szychowski called football players the best yerba mate ambassadors around the world, before noting that Pope Francis , an Argentine, is also known to enjoy a mug.
Not every player, though, is a fan from the taste that a few have called too bitter, too herbaceous, too earthy. (Experts advised beginners in order to start with a sweet mate. ) Walker Zimmerman, a defender on the United States team that had been eliminated from the World Cup in the round of 16, said two associated with his Argentine teammates at F. C. Dallas years ago — Maximiliano Urruti and Mauro Díaz — introduced him to mate, yet he admitted, “I do not think I’d ever get into it on my own. ”
Lisandro López, a former Argentina defensive player, said not really everyone was utilized to him nursing his mate via a straw when he played in Portugal. “A lot of the time — and I lived in Lisbon for four years — I went to the plaza to drink mate and people looked in me weird, like you’re doing drugs or something, ” López said.
Luis Hernández, the particular former Mexican striker, stated his palate couldn’t quite get used to the taste when this individual spent a season from Boca Juniors in Argentina. While everyone else on the team drank mate, he or she said, he was the lone holdout.
“I prefer a good coffee than a glass of partner, ” Hernández said, adding later with a chuckle, “They say it helps them? But mate doesn’t help you score goals. ”
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