Last updated: 14 August, 2014

Hezbollah chief backed Argentina in World Cup final

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, is rarely seen in public and known mostly for the group’s military exploits — but he’s also a football fan.

In an interview published by Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper on Thursday, Nasrallah spoke at length about Israel, Syria and the Palestinians, but also revealed a few personal tidbits, including his longtime love for the beautiful game.

“I love football, and I used to play it with friends,” he told the newspaper, which is close to his Hezbollah movement.

In the past, he told the daily, he used to follow football “for fun and as a change of pace.”

“I supported Brazil most of the time, and sometimes Argentina, particularly during (Diego) Maradona’s time. I liked the way he played.”

Nasrallah said he hadn’t watched much of this year’s World Cup, which swept up most of Lebanon in football fever, because of the conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Gaza.

But he said he had watched part of the final that pitted Germany against Argentina “for my son’s sake.”

“Since he was supporting Germany, I decided to support Argentina to create a bit of suspense,” he said.

The decision ended up being a misstep for the powerful leader, reviled as the head of a “terrorist” group by many in the international community, but beloved by his supporters in Lebanon.

Germany bested Argentina with a single goal in the 113th minute of the final, securing their fourth World Cup title.