FIFA World Cup 2018 is over. And so is India’s obsession with football

first_imgSunil Chhetri had to plead with football fans in India to come watch the national team play in Mumbai. But the same fans did not need a second invitation to watch the FIFA World Cup, riveting as the tournament was.The spectacular tournament in Russia – and make no mistake, it was a spectacular tournament – came to a dramatic end Sunday night. For starters, France played brilliant football and Croatia tried heroically. Then there was a pitch invasion and then there was rain.Even as it poured, a chaotic presentation ceremony ensued but there were smiles all around as France lifted the trophy that matters most in the football world. Paris was jubilant and Zagreb was proud. But the joy spread across different parts of India. It was like India had come out all guns blazing in the World Cup.For the last one month, Indians were glued to football. There was talk of football in offices, parks, pubs, malls. You could be forgiven for thinking India was far from a football nation.2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL COVERAGERohit Sharma’s exploits, KL Rahul’s hundred, Kuldeep Yadav’s wile – the Indian cricket team has had a pretty impressive tour of the United Kingdom but nothing mattered. Football was the flavour of the season.Yet, the same football fans would think twice about watching Indian football. The dedicated few – who follow Premier League clubs as religiously as Chhetri’s men, would be fretting their absence in the Asian Games but for the recently converted, it would be back to routine. Rest assured, the converts would return to cricket and Kohli and Dhoni.advertisementFrom June 14 to July 15, all corners of India were echoing of the World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar were the names majorly known but they knew the countries. Everyone had taken sides.Also read – FIFA World Cup 2018: Full list of prize winnersFootball-mad cities like Kolkata, Kerala and Chennai were obviously divided between the age old rivalry of Brazil and Argentina but the rest of the country had chosen their favourites too.Some had chosen out of the sheer display of football they had seen from a team while others had picked just for the country or one player, regardless of everything else, football had become a part of majority of people’s lives.If people were not planning to follow, they did it so that they will not be left out of conversations while some genuinely liked what they so. It is the beautiful game after all.Also read – France vs Croatia World Cup final: A crash course on what makes football so addictiveHowever, as the 2018 FIFA World Cup comes to a close, so does the game in India. For the next four years, India will remain the cricket-crazy nation and only the football enthusiasts will follow the game.International football brings people together, perhaps it’s easier to understand and grasp. There is no complication of cities, clubs, players from different countries coming together at one club, maintaining the points tables year long — there is no such hassle when it comes to World Cup. It’s just simple to follow and lasts a month!Moroever, India is not a country that loves it football too much. Barring the diehard followers, players and a few regions that follow their local football, the game does not boast of a pan-India reach.Also read – France youngest team since Pele’s 1970 triumphant Brazil to win World CupBlame it on the football federation, lack of India’s success on the international arena or just people’s choices, the football fanaticism that you witnessed this past month will only come back after four years.India will play the Asian Cup 2019, I-League and Indian Super League will take place for the coming years and India will play various friendlies but you won’t see a lot of love and madness.When Qatar comes calling with the 2022 World Cup, these fans will resurface, flags will be hoisted, banners will be unfurled, football euphoria will engulf the country again.last_img

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