Friday, June 11, 2010

Foot(ball) in the mouth

It was one of those dates that wasn’t going anywhere. After all, she never went beyond Paulo Coelho drivel and I talking about Italo Calvino on that occasion would have been as unappetising as a beefless burger. With a feigned interest I asked her if she watches football and her eyes light up to say ‘yeahhhh’. “Okay, this might not be a date that Lou Reed talks about in ‘Perfect Day’ but at least it’s not an unmitigated disaster,” I was telling myself. Who’s your favourite player I asked with a renewed vigor and pat came her reply “Zidane”. “Zidane who”. “Zinedine Zidane”. I guess the constipated look on my face was a give-away to her that I am not impressed at her reply.

I perfectly understand if someone has no interest in football. I’ve never listened to Justin Bieber or touched Twilight series with a bargepole either. However, my problem is much more existential. It makes me wonder why in India football is viewed through that narrow prism called “FIFA World Cup”. Case in point is this woman, who last saw a football game when Zidane headbutted Materazzi in 2006. In a week’s time, another World Cup is set to begin and my childhood friend, who cannot name a single Brazilian player apart from Ronaldo, not the Cristiano one, is betting his money on Brazil. Lula Silva might be overwhelmed looking at the kind of support his country’s team is getting in India considering the fact that a Brazil victory would be the football equivalent of “out of the blue”.

Words like EPL, UEFA Champions League, La Liga might sound gibberish to people but the same people would easily hack their right arm to be in South Africa to watch a game between Greece and Nigeria. Football is no Olympics that is essential watch in every four years. Every year, Manchester United and Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona, Inter Milan and AC Milan slug it out to justify the ridiculous amount of money spent on them. But we are not bothered with that.

Don’t get me wrong here. I am in no way belittling the World Cup. I am rooting for Spain and can’t see myself getting out of a slough of despond if anyone else wins it. However, my devotion to Spain has logic to it. Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas, Carlos Puyol, Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso are the names I follow on the club circuit the way these days kids follow Lady Gaga. It’s sad that Lionel Messi will be known in this part of the world only after showcasing his exploits donning Argentina colours.

If you are stinking rich enough to go to South Africa but cannot tell who Jose Mourinho is, remember that to avoid any more embarrassment, always say “football game”, not “football match”. See you around in… 2014.


At 2:50 AM, Blogger The invincible! said...

Very well written..
Caustic remarks at its best:)


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