Adios World Cup…

What a world cup this FIFA 2010 has turned out to be! One where Paul the Octopus was by far the most popular non scoring participant at the 2010 FIFA world cup. With his eight tentacles, he metamorphosed himself to be the world’s most popular Oracle. Paul has predicted the last eight games at the cup with pin point accuracy and is all set to soar ahead of Nostradamus and a myriad other soothsayers on Google and Bing search engines. Paul did have a tantalizing way of picking his winner. Two boxes representing a country each (flag firmly pasted on the box) would be lowered into the glass tank where Paul resides in an aquarium in Germany. Inside the box lay a succulent mussel for Paul. The box that he chose to pick his dinner from would be the prediction for the game. Voila, every mussel that made it into Paul’s intestines carried the fate of the lucky country on it’s slippery shell. And to give Paul competition there was another soothsayer that sprung up. Mani, the green parrot who tugged at the Netherlands card and obediently placed it in front of his Master Muniyappa, a roadside astrologer in Singapore.

 So, more than Spain Vs Holland, it was Paul Vs Mani. I think Paul is a lot more decisive than Manmohan Singh. Paul despite being spineless like Singh (invertebrate),is a decisive chap and he is neither being pulled from his drawstrings by an Italian Mommy. Paul has my immense respect. And there is Mani who picked Holland as the winner, a bit like Advani, playing the wrong card in the climax scene. Jokes apart, I remain aghast at the treatment of these fine creatures, confining them in small spaces expecting them to do great tricks, act the patient pet and now also be a qualified astrologer. Is there anything Man does not want an Animal to do? I wait for the answer.

 Every four years when the football comes around, Indians change their outlook rather quickly. For a country that can only HOPE and DREAM that one day the tri color will be flying high at the FIFA world cup, we are first to participate in the festivities. Oh, yes we are a sporting lot, we immerse ourselves in sporting glory yet we shy away from participating in the sport. When it comes to football, we remain a country whose football glory begins and ends with Mohun Bagan. Even for argument sake, let’s say we start our FIFA preparation in earnest for the 2042 FIFA world cup right away, there is every chance that Afghanistan will qualify before us and our only football players from the East of India would be playing for China by then.

 I know some enthusiastic individuals who began preparing for the FIFA 2010 years in advance. Not at the soccer pitch, but at the comfort of their posh offices, booking air line tickets, reserving accommodation and planning a family safari around South Africa to coincide with the event. The 2010 FIFA world cup was an excuse for the great Indian family outing. In fact, the rate at which we are traversing down the FIFA path, the world cups will only be about planning a vacation. Wherever the world cup goes, Indian families will follow. Nothing wrong whatsoever, but I wish there was a better reason to celebrate the football world cup.

 The next best thing to do if your country is not playing at this world game is to adopt a country which is. I adopted mine when I started walking (a bit later). Argentina. I fell in love with Diego Armando Maradona (GOD). One day while watching TV, I saw God in blue and white stripes, running like the wind as locks of his jet black curly hair gleamed under the hot sun, he went deftly past every single thing that came his way until the white moon found it self firmly entangled in the mesh. And then this man would look up to the heavens, cross him self and be carried away by a group of heavenly messiahs.a perfect ten on all counts, not even Zeus or Apollo could stand near Diego’s’ shadow. Maradona, the invincible one led my life. Many exams were flunked in my pursuit for Argentine ecstasy. I have been an Argentine supporter from time immemorial. There was one stage of my life when I thought of giving up my Indian passport for an Argentine one. I hated Claudia (Maradona’s wife) and silently prayed for her death every night. I regretted not being part of the 1986 World cup triumph or rather not being old enough to comprehend it. I cried my lungs out when Maradona wept at the Italia world cup and vowed to single handedly finish every person who tarnished Maradona’s reputation.

 The other day, in a happening place in Bangalore there were many avid Argentine supporters like myself. I questioned one such avid supporter about his reasons for supporting Argentina. The answer was simple. “If not Brazil then Argentina”, he said. The party crowd in Bangalore which made itself present in the hot spots are quite clueless about the game whilst at the same time the couch potatoes who sat at home with the remote control firmly clutched in their hands are an encyclopedia of information. I think I fit somewhere in between these two zones. Neither of the participants on either side of the seismic divide have made it to the soccer pitch (including me). The 2010 world cup uplifted the Indian spirit to record high levels. Kingfisher ran “drink and shoot” a goal competition in many venues. Drunken fools were made to sing “oooh la la le lo” before taking home a red T shirt. Even if India did not qualify for FIFA 2010, Mahindra Satyam did. Watching the advertising banner of Mahindra Satyam glimmer under the flood lights reminded us how near, yet how far we are to the real thing.



18 Responses to “Adios World Cup…”

  1. Sharmila,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the reason that India does not have a team in the World Cup is much more mundane. In most countries there is a culture of kids starting to play on the streets at a very early age and the pools for selecting the Best of the Best are large. India is generally too hot for a sport which requires much running.

    Last week there was a bandh in India. I read about many kids going out into the now-quiet streets to play cricket. Not football.

    • Renate – Yes, cricket has been accorded more importanace than any other sport here leading to neglect of all non cricketing sports, a pity. Children in most schools have been introduced to football from time immemorial, the problem lies with Govt funding and Govt inclination for serious preparation. The heat is not much of a factor. Most African countries get a lot hotter than the hottest region in India. Ghana is one such.

  2. PS: I completely understand your affection for the Argentine team. I adore Diego Maradona too, and after the first German goal in the Argentina-Germany game I cheered along with my Argentine friends for a blue-and-white goal and a balanced game.

    However, Octopussy demanded his due and our descent into a New Age version of the Middle Ages continues….

  3. Sharmila,

    Foot-paul world cup was good entertainment. Rajni along with Maradona on the field would have made it an inter-galactic success!

    Rajni: Diego, you kick the ball into the goal… I will kick the waka waka of the goal keeper

    Diego: Magia de Dios!

    BTW, jokes aside, the Indian prospects for the next world cup qualifiers are already training in Portugal. India has appointed a Portugese coach. The team will be playing some internationals next month. Mahindra Satyam is the sponsor.

    • I dread the internationals that India will be playing in. I am not being cynical in the least here. I prefer giving our chance a few mre years. A decade to be precise.

  4. MonaLisa Says:

    An Entire generation changes in a decade…. The generation now will lose its chance to play if waited that long..
    Who knows what happens to next generation and how would it be..!?

    • I am still skeptical about our chances MonaLisa. 200 crore deals like what Dhoni has signed makes a sport flourish in India.

      • MonaLisa Says:

        Chances to play or chancs to win….? Atleast some sport other than cricket will be introduced to commoners might bring that silly cricket fever down.
        Every team in competitions love to win….however sports are and should not be played for victory….btw….playing barefoot can be quite injurious….
        I am not aware what Dhoni deal are you talking abt….! is it about Hocky or something….!? not sure….however..Crickters are now overly paid entities like filmstars…in India ….these days…! 🙂

      • MonaLisa Says:

        Just found out abt that Dhoni Deal….Don’t know about sport flourish or not but he did…definitely secured his future monetarily. 🙂

      • Yes, he has and for his next ten generations of little Dhonis too.

    • Actually getting to play by itself is a big feat, bare feet or not.

  5. Anand Khare Says:

    India had qualified to play in world cup in the 1950s where they did not play because they were not allowed to play in bare feet.Perhaps the reason must be that no Indian royalty was member of the soccer team as was in cricket.

    But now we may be back in next few years.


  6. “I hated Claudia (Maradona’s wife) and silently prayed for her death every night” :)) Did you really????????OMG,its hilarious if you did.I mean,now I want to see the man who stood cool as a cucumber in front of AB when you met him last.He must be aware of it,right.Ok,jokes apart… know what,at first,I was startled to see the Mahindra Satyam banner glittering on the African land.But I had to believe it later.

    And before I forget,I must mention about what I have come to know.If not misheard,that news piece said that Paul would be retiring soon and hence no predictions should be expected in the next WC.
    Also,you have touched an important point regarding cruelty to animals.I really wonder how much more are we willing to extract out of a poor animal,who may not even have the slightest idea of what it is doing by just choosing its meal.

    • Salman – Lets say that logic did not exist those days.:) Happy to hear that Paul is retiring. About time too. Octopus are one of the most intelligent creatures and pity he has been used for football fantasy for humans.

  7. MonaLisa Says:

    oops…! ‘Sharmila’ it is….not ‘sgarmila’….damn..keyboard..!

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