India’s World Cups of Woes – Part 2: Being a Football Fan in India

Life is hard. No doubt about it. Especially so if you are a Football fan in India.

In India, cricket rules like Hugo Chavez rules Venezuela. And just like Chavez' political opponents, any other sport simply does not exist on a national scale or has been pushed into oblivion, including football despite it having the largest popularity and fan base across the world. The game and the fan live in relative obscurity here. We have never seen our national team in a world cup, and I doubt if we ever will. We all know the reasons for this.

Obligatory "why-oh-why" noise aside, equally appalling is the sheer, unabashed total ignorance of a large majority of the general Indian public about everything Football. (Coming to think of it, cricket too. There are people who think cricket originated in India and Lagaan is based on a true story)

Millions do follow major international leagues in India. Yes, football is fanatically popular in Kerala, Goa and Bengal. But in India a couple million does not amount to anything. We, the football fans, are still a minority who stand a zilch chance against the vast larger cricketing majority in this country

Have said this before: Many bodies stand to lose billions in revenue from many sources if people lose interest in cricket. Such ad revenue cannot be had from any other sport. So people need to be kept in a Cricket-Matrix where they are programmed to eat, sleep, watch, read, write, think, drink and excrete cricket, no matter what Coca-Cola thinks. In between all this, the whats, whos, whens, wheres and hows of Indian football are usually lost in space.

Starting with one common misnomer: FIFA. 'FIFA' is not the event. FIFA is the body which controls world football. The event is called World Cup. Or FIFA World Cup. Asking things like "FIFA dekhe ho kya?", "Who will win FIFA?", "Kaka was awesome in yesterday's FIFA" and so on, is akin to asking "Who will win the next ICC?", "Will Yuvraj's paunch come in the way of ICC"? and so on. Almost everyone refers the football as 'FIFA'. But it is Celina Jaitly who emphatically tweet-wished her followers a "Happy FIFA"! who takes the cake here. *facepalm*

Pictured: Indian Football Fan.

Once the World Cup rolls around, everyone jumps on the bandwagon because that seems the 'In' thing to do. Starting from 'beautiful people' douchebag celebrities to the Amit_123 in office who thinks Maradona is still playing, starts raving about Ronaldo's passes and Messi's goals (both are actually absent)

Yes, most people in India seem to think world football is limited to the 'FIFA' which happens once every 4 years.

Yes, many Indian folk really think that cricket is the most widely played and watched sport in the world.

No, I dare not say aloud: FA, UEFA, EPL, La Liga, Copa America, Bundesliga, Serie A.. People will look at me as if I just landed from Andromeda. Wolverhampton? Real Betis? Zaragoza? Get ready to be LOL-ed!

No, you cannot watch La Liga on TV in India. Yes, the closest what people may know about the EPL is Man-U.

Yes, the number of stadia good enough to play football can be counted on fingers. Remaining all look like Africa in its various natural forms: Either like a desert, or with overgrown grass like a steppe or like a tropical rainforest.

No, you cant get any decent football jerseys anywhere. Ever tried wearing a bright 'Oranje' Holland shirt to The Forum? I have, and if I were a website and the looks I got were hits, I would have crashed the server.

No, you cannot find enough people who are informed enough to sensibly discuss football.

Yes, everyone looks upon people who follow football more than cricket with a hint of suspicion.

Yes, Indian football fans do follow the I-League, but to a lesser extent than the EPL.

Yes,  For most people world football starts and ends with Argentina and Brazil.

Yes, I AM proud that we (India) have achieved total world domination in cricket. But couldn't we make some promotional space for other sports as well?

Yes, I have met people who are pissed off because everyone is watching the World Cup and not Cricket.

Oh and as a fan, I do really like watching the fans. :)

No, This is NOT the reason for it to be called the 'Beautiful Game'.

And finally, Yes, the biggest disaster to happen to football in India in recent times is Mandira Bedi's 'World Cup' column in The Times of India. Yes, she thinks football is called the 'beautiful game' because of 'beautiful players'.

I am not going to rant on what all has to be done to bring up football to international levels in India. Everyone knows all that and it has been discussed gazillion times. I will continue watching the beautiful game and cheer on my favorite teams!

Are you a football fan outcast in India? Share your thoughts. Oh and you *really* need to go for a round in Kerala during the world cup season. Thank You for reading.

In case you have missed it, Please be seeing: India’s World Cups of Woes – Part 1: Football in India? 

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  • We Indians only think or talk about Football only when there is a World Cup going on. And most of us, like you said, dont look or know beyond Brazil and Argentina in the world stage, and Man U in EPL. I’m a football player, fan and writer myself, and I’m dismayed by the lack of real football knowledge in our soccer fans.

    I think our football fans should follow domestic European Leagues regularly. This will help develop a sustained interest in the sport, and could influence more and more fans to actually take the field, and thus more quality players will emerge, and the game will develop in our country.

    • @ joshimukard Exactly! People just follow Brazil and Argentina coz everyone else does! This time, I heard someone saying: “This final will be boring. Some two small teams are playing.” I tried to correct saying one is a two time finalist and one time European champion, and the other one is the current European champion. The reply was: “Not as big as Brazil no? They dont play total football like Brazil do”. *Sigh*.

      I agree with the European Leagues thing. Somehow awareness needs to be spread.

      BTW, I read your football blog. Pretty authoritative! Good work!

  • Thanks for reading my football blog.

  • RR

    The majority of indians always have one foot in the bush. Playing international football barefooted! Even my tiny Mauritius never did this!

  • Here is a little history to help in the appreciation of this cherished American sport.

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  • messi is a best player.. thanks for this sharing ..

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