FIFA is all anyone can talk about right now. Twitter, facebook and Instagram are saturated with fan posts, updates and match statistics. One would think that in a country like India, where cricket is the national pastime, football wouldn’t receive as much attention. Especially considering the ungodly hours the matches air at, one would not imagine that people would stay up till 3am watching a game despite their work commitments for the next day.
Believe me, it happens! And it happens all over. It is not just India, but the entire South Asian region, including people from Pakistan, who are gung-ho about the game. Fans who have been following the sport from the early 1980s are still passionate about it today. The late nights, expensive jerseys, shouts and screams, are just the tip of the iceberg for an ardent football fan. A fan will tell you that if their team loses, it is tantamount to getting shot in the leg. People in both nations, India and Pakistan, showcase this quite prominently with cricket. Sure, football is the most popular and played sport in the world, but in these two nations, cricket reigns supreme. Although lately, it seems the FIFA bug has bitten everybody, and people from all walks of life are embracing this game.
It is interesting to see that even with the not-so-friendly ties between India and Pakistan, people find common ground through the game of football.
And now, during the biggest football event in the world, these people find it is this passion that is breaking the boundaries. Violence in both these countries are frequent; recently there was an incident in Karachi, in which there were allegations that Indians had made the bombs that were used. But with the start of the World Cup in Brazil, these divides between the countries seem to melt away, and you just see people, who love the game.
This common ground, in the simplest way, is the first step to realising that at the end of the day, we are all just human beings with similar passions, and the walls that divide us, whatever they maybe, have to be pulled down.
Leena Aziz, sportswriter, Pakistan
I’ve been following football since the 80s’ World Cup, since the time Maradona was playing. I follow football generally as well. So it’s not just FIFA, we follow the Premier League also. I support Arsenal, so does my son.
Garth D’Mello, geologist/musician, India
I love the game for as long as I can remember. I even order new jerseys every year for the team(s) I support! My parents get a little annoyed with that, but still. Go Germany!
Kanika Chopra, student, India
I like football because it is a team sport yet every player retains their individuality while they play. Not to mention how amazing it is to watch them play, with their well-timed moves and overall coordination.
Raza Rumi, author, Pakistan
While cricket dominates the sporting field, football does, in fact, have a huge following across Pakistan, especially among the youth. Kids are seen playing football in the fields and the FIFA World Cup has generated a tremendous amount of interest.