In a few days Croatia and France would lock horns on the football field like rivals who had their ancestral heads chopped off by each other in some nth century war. Men, women, and kids would emblazon all sorts of crazy frames on their faces, drape themselves in clothes that flaunt national symbols, and shout slogans to cheer their team and ridicule the opponent. All of this will happen while a country of 7 billion stands divided on which country they were supporting and which one should have won. During FIFA world cups, I find India to be a childless person who starts adoring any random kid at a party. This is the same country that knows no other team in the game of cricket except the army of men who ‘bleed blue’; a country that has temples in the name of Sachin and Dravid, and fashion quotients after Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. More so, this county has clocked reckon and repute at the Olympics, boasts of a star studded affair at several hockey tourneys, and a streak of indefatigable success in Cricket. I, however, am not here to rant about the brilliance of this nation’s sportive endeavors; instead, I am making a point about the bias of its government, the obsession of its investors with the white-skinned cheerleaders of IPL, and the incorrigible cricketing narcissism (did I just coin a new term) of sports authorities.
When Virat Kohli supported Sunil Chhetri (Some of you may need to Google him) in the latter’s request to the people to support the Indian Football Team, it was a perfect display of sportsman spirit. I write this article with the same spirit because I am a fan of cricket myself, but I do understand the injustice that this nation has done to the grand game of football. It may sound legit for the government to justify their bootlicking prioritization of Cricket as reciprocation to the love that Indians harbor for the game. However, the reality is that the cattle feed on what you serve them. Indians, for decades, have been given India versus Pakistan Cricket Series as source of sportive entertainment. From TV commercials to brand endorsements, everything in the country has constantly recalibrated itself towards promoting cricket as the undefeated and unchallenged dictator of the sports territory. It is no surprise then that the common Indian man whose patriotism thrives on the creation of allegories through adverts has given in to the fancy of the English game.
Honestly, I can’t do the maths of how much and how soon will football start generating large sums of revenues for India, but even if half the bucks spent on cricket are devoted to the game, we will see our Football team carve greater milestones. After all, when Sunil Chhetri can passionately promise to lay down his life on the field, sports authorities and governments can at least lay some bugs for the all so deprived football fraternity in India. And as years pass by in multiples of four, we may soon see India uniting through the game of football the way they unite when our cricket team plays the world cup.
(By Zafeer Akbar)