Football, Cricket and Indian Jingoism

The day Germany beat Argentina in FIFA world cup, Indians went crazy. Facebook was flooded with posts. On the same day India which was ranked 63 beat the 12th rank China, which was HUGE. And yet, Indians chose to celebrate Germany’s win. How Hitler must be cackling in his grave.

My aversion towards football comes as a shocker to most who know me as the sports fanatic tomboy.

Many guy friends come to me during FIFA to talk about the football matches and take it as a given that I must be following it religiously, since I’m the first one to talk to them after a great cricket match.

How did this tomboy, who as a kid had broken her toenails multiple times, playing football barefoot with her cousins, come to hate the sport with so much fervour?

I myself am trying to find the answer.

“I have never been so much more happier in my life than I have at this moment. We love you Arsenal, we love you.”, he said referring to Arsenal winning the FA Cup.

“Really? What about India winning the 2011 World Cup after 28 years?” I asked him, shocked.

No Chandni, never. Kill me for this, but this is what it’s all about. This is football. This is Arsenal.”

Conversations like this provide the most clear answers.

Retrospectively speaking, my antagonism towards football started percolating at the same time, when my fanaticism towards cricket reached a fever pitch.

After Yuvraj’s six sixes, India’s T20 World Cup Win, and the inaugural IPL saga, cricket for me, like many other Indians, had become my religion.

I remember FIFA 2010 coincided with Asia Cup. And FIFA had more TRP in India than Asia Cup.

That one moment had changed my attitude towards football.

As a self-proclaimed jingoist, I find it revolting that some Indians chose to watch England,France,Spain or Argentina over their own country.

I then read a survey in a sports magazine in 2010. It said that football was the fastest growing sport in India and that it was next to cricket in terms of popularity and TRPs and that TRPs during FIFA easily rivaled to those of an India-West Indies ODI.

It was then natural that I viewed football with deep rooted scepticism and suspicion. It was after all, a major threat to the hegemony of my religion.

Unfortunately, I am acquainted with guys who proudly claim to follow football more than cricket and shamelessly say they would skip India’s match to watch Real Madrid or Chelsea or Argentina or Germany play.

I have no problem with football per se, I myself enjoy playing it.

But my problem with football stems from the fact that India doesn’t play it on the global stage, and on days when India plays other sports on global stage, Indians still prefer to watch 2 other random countries fight it out in a football match.

The day Germany beat Argentina in the finals of the FIFA world cup, Indians went crazy. Facebook was flooded with posts. On the same day India beat China in a basketball match. And how many people spoke of that? How much coverage did it garner on the FIFA dominated sports news shows?

India which was ranked 63 in FIBA Asia beat the 12th rank China, which was HUGE. And yet, Indians chose to celebrate Germany’s win. How Hitler must be cackling in his grave.

India’s 7-0 win over Pakistan in the 2010 Hockey World Cup wasn’t half as celebrated as Germany’s 7-1 win over Brazil.

Sad. Revolting. Disgusting. (Welcome to the mind of a jingoist)

What also infuriates me is when Indians, when coming from the nation of Dravid, Tendulkar, Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, look up to Ronaldos and Messis for an idol or inspiration.

The thing about Tendulkar is that he’s been spotless on the filed as well as off it. And someone like Ronaldo, maybe a good player, but has trophy girlfriends and babies all over the world.

The personal and professional lives of sporting legends like Maradona have also been riddled with controversies, whereas Tendulkar has managed to remain relatively unblemished.

Then why look outside your country? I feel blessed to be born in the country of Tendulkar, and it would be a shame if I consider a money-hungry womaniser as my sporting idol.

So for me, it was never cricket or football. For me it always has been and will be India.

I dream of the day, when I see India at the FIFA. And I promise to follow the sport with equal enthusiasm.

And after all said and done, I am super excited for the Indian Super League, and yes, Kerala Blasters all the way!


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