NARAHA, Japan (AP) -- Most earn exorbitant salaries in Europe's biggest leagues, but Argentina's players say they'll take the field at the World Cup with one thing in mind: the plight of their fellow countrymen caught in the country's economic collapse.
"We feel very close to the people of Argentina right now and we want to bring the country some happiness," said Manchester United midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron. "We want them to feel more love for Argentina's flag.
"We all watch the news and know what's happening. That's good because it keeps us rooted in reality."
Argentina's players have often come onto the pitch in Buenos Aires holding banners or wearing T-shirts over their jerseys with slogans in support of social causes.
But Veron warned that -- given the enormity of Argentina's economic and social problems -- any success at the World Cup would only be a fleeting satisfaction.
"It won't put a plate of food on anybody's table, nor will beating England or winning five games in a row," he told reporters. "But we still want to go back home with the cup under our arms."
Coach Marcelo Bielsa prefers to keep sport and politics separate, saying "we shouldn't overemphasize the issue" -- in an apparent bid to keep some pressure off the players.
"In no way should we interpret that this, in any way, is a substitute for anything else," he said.
Many Argentines have had their savings trapped in a banking freeze since December and watched as the peso currency has been deeply devalued. Unemployment has spiralled as a result of a debilitating four-year recession which appears to have no end in sight.