The FIFA Football World Cup always brings out the football aficionado even in cricket driven India. But with the Indian cricket team not doing itself justice, the public have perhaps spoken. Football is getting unprecedented attention across channels. Too bad, there is not Indian football team in South Africa to root for because the Indian cricket team is not even being talked up ahead of the 2010 Asia Cup in Sri Lanka!
Former Indian cricketers, Hollywood actors who perhaps have more time on their hands for want of work or otherwise, have joined the bandwagon, sticking their necks out, and making predictions about who will pick the World Cup in a month’s time. Surprisingly there seem next to no takers willing to stick their neck out for team India in a tournament important to the sub continent, the Asia Cup.
The football action gets underway on the 11th of June and from teams, players, everything that means anything to the sport is being discussed. Not that the Indian cricketers would mind. Given their recent flop show, all it does is veer the attention of the media from over scrutiny and public angst displayed through disgust to another sport. Less attention means less reprimand. And South Africa know it too as football has gripped their nation, even as they suffered debacle themselves.
However, with the 2010 Asia Cup following just four days since the commencement of the football World Cup, it is a sad reflection of how cricket has been unable to sustain itself for want of a good performance. While the hype is understandable given it is the world cup of football, that there is next to nothing about the expectations for the Asia Cup or of India’s chances is a reflection that even the media has burnt its fingers twice in the recent past and unwilling to be caught as perpetuating hype about a team that is not willing to pull up its socks.
It must also be a retrospective moment because cricket enjoys the adulation which is why the cricketers are the beneficiaries of such huge pay packets from sponsors who heavily invest in them as opposed to Indian football that is struggling to make its mark on the international stage.
So, instead of India, fans are rooting for Brazil, Spain, Germany and players such as Lionel Messi, Fernando Torres ( remember his heart breaking goal that clinched Spain the Euro 2008 title over Germany ), Christiano Ronaldo, instead of homegrown heroes of which they know next to nothing.
It is hard to escape the football fever, especially in a world sporting event like this, but the desperation only grows when it comes around. That must be a reality check for the cricketers and the board, but since cricket is not being immediately threatened or in dire situation like football or hockey, perhaps a few eyes will remain shut while others burn their television sets into the wee hours.
Don’t worry. Www.crickblog.com will be keeping track and will continue to attempt to draw parallels with cricket as the tournament swings along. The best of both worlds!