The World Cup is underway and the city is in the throes of football fever

Kerala has always been known as a football loving State. So it came as no surprise when the football World Cup hit our shores with an intensity that made the monsoon pale in comparison. As loyalties were worn on hearts and sleeves (literally) and football lovers gathered to watch matches and debate outcomes, the World Cup has seen expected results and upsets as it races to its conclusion with a few nail-biting finishes.

The tournament has also spawned quite a lot of interest among fans, with a few events and trends marking its progression.

The build up to the World Cup was electric, as stores stocked up on football accessories and memorabilia, restaurants served Brazilian cuisine, and public spaces were adorned with the flags of the most popular teams. Once the action started, all the attention shifted to television screens, but the fever continues to rage with the symptoms being displayed by jerseys, music and even hairstyles.

Local percussion band Wooden Shield greeted the tournament with a storm of drums, releasing their own World Cup theme song, named ‘Brazuca’ after the eponymous football used in the World Cup matches. Wooden Shield frontman Jerry Peter says that the idea was to express the band’s love for football with a song that reflected the musical style of South America. With close to 9,000 views on YouTube, the video has found its share of takers, but Jerry and the band are now busy watching the matches. “I support Argentina, and while they have been mostly untroubled, their last match gave me some cause for concern,” says Jerry with a laugh.

Cafes and hotels that are screening the matches are flocked by those who enjoy a drink and like-minded company. Most of these locations have responded to the occasion by adding a splash of team colour to their interiors. “We have been screening all the matches except the last ones which start early in the morning. The turnout has been impressive so we’re planning to run a ‘predict the score’ contest for the semi-finals and finals, with a lucky draw to select the winner,” says Noorul Hijaz Tharola, one of the managing partners behind Chaicofi and the Woot gaming lounge. For enthusiasts who like to feel more connected to the action, Woot will also be conducting a FIFA ’14 tournament on July 12 and 13, right before the World Cup finals.

But watching the game alone does not sate the appetite of the hardcore football fan, and after watching a thrilling match, discussions and analysis follow. Minu Pauline, proprietor of Pappadavada, an ethnic tea shop, has been witness to this trend. “We have our staff dressed up in the colours of the Brazilian team and have added some football memorabilia to our décor. As a result, the general topic of conversation among our patrons seems to automatically deviate towards football,” she says, explaining that they also plan to screen the semi-finals and final at Pappadavada.

Whether it is a match screening or a post-match discussion, the experience is not complete without a clear proclamation of loyalties. And this desire for expression has led to football-related apparel and memorabilia flying off shelves at sports stores. “The number of footballs bought has gone up considerably since the tournament started, along with jerseys, wrist bands and player models. A lot of media houses and Infopark-based companies have also started teams and play in tournaments, so they buy football kit in bulk. Besides that, we have lots of people buying wristbands to show which team they support,” says Sherin Thomas, events and marketing manager for Cosmos Sports.

A few unconventional hairstyles have also been making waves among the younger fans. An adventurous few have spent some quality time at the local hairdressers to adopt the look sported by their favourite players, adding to the overall flavour of World Cup trends. Some local restaurants have taken the opportunity to treat diners to some Brazilian fare, with the Divine bar at Malabar House taking it a step further with a ‘Food ball’ menu, complete with sushi and mushroom-based items shaped to look like footballs.

Between colourful jerseys, late-night match parties, intense discussions over tea and World Cup-themed food, football fans have left no stone unturned in making sure the celebrations have been worth waiting years for.