FIFA-on-Twitter has spread a different level of camaraderie, bringing people from all over the globe and connecting them on one note – absolute love of the game.

Towards the fag end of FIFA 2010, the realisation dawns that it has been a different ball game this time. (Well, not so much for me; for neither am I an avid follower nor am I heartbroken because all the best bets have been sent packing home.)

The World Cup this time has been played out not just on television screens or enormous LCD monitors in the comfort of living rooms, and amongst sultry crowds outside television showrooms, but on the net and its networking arms as well. The ball, this time, was in social networking’s court and it seems like a game played well.

Before you shouted ‘goal’ or a loud ‘NO’, you have typed in the ‘#’key followed by the update. News stories, anecdotes, off-field gossip, friendly spats, predictions, disappointments, admiration for the handsome men running across the fields, along with match updates in tweets and retweets of 140 characters at a time, hundreds a second – that’s how Twitter has hosted the most-awaited game season.

And testimony to the football bounty on Twitter has been the very gentle-looking yet irritating ‘failwhale’ that appeared on your screens most times you tried to log in when a game was on.

“Nothing can replace the joy of watching the game with good friends and football maniacs,” says a friend, who has also been following the game on social networking sites. Unarguably, yes. But FIFA-on-Twitter has spread a different level of camaraderie, bringing people from all over the globe and connecting them on one note – absolute love of the game.

Waka waka

For a total ignoramus, Twitter, through this season, has besides bringing timely and sensible updates, helped me feel the senseless madness, religious fervour and blind love associated with the game from ground zero, well, almost. And so, when I first tweeted “making sense of the game”, a “follower” and soccer devotee was quick to reply “don’t try to make sense, just enjoy”.

And that is what I have done, to the extent of staying up late nights to watch the game, realising in moments that am on the edge of the seat, and jumping in bouts of glee, following live updates my colleagues at office put up and with unshaken faith in their teams, and of course, all the while logged in to Twitter.

And once you go #worldcup, it is impossible not to be swept off in the whirlwind of football crazy updates. Five minutes into writing this story, the #worldcup page shows 567 “new tweets”, nearly two hours after the game, and in so many languages. The first semis over, the debate rages on – will it be #NED, #ESP or #GER that go into the finals of #worldcup. “RT if you think #GER is going to win the #worlcup” to “Once again Spain please don’t break my heart tomorrow” to “#worldcup is getting weak…Netherlands”, the tweets just don’t stop. Comments have never been freer and so diverse.

The tweetbeat worlcup page is the most happening forum, with 14, 845 followers, an exciting countdown timer for matches, and posts flowing in as easy as you say “tweet”. The FIFA’s official account is a lead player, bringing updates from South Africa, and its English version having more than 117,000 followers at last count.

The FIFAWorldcupTM, poised as the unofficial updates provider, is one step up, with more than 120,000 aficionados following. Also anyone who cares to prefix #worlcup before his/her tweet is in the game, generating innumerable tweets through the matches.

Dedicated Facebook pages, live updates on numerous sites, paid mobile updates to improve your football “gyan”, and FIFA has just been everywhere. Truly, ‘world’cup and very much on the move. “With cable television playing truant, I followed entire games just on Twitter this season,” says Noufel, who just moved in to his new apartment in Nigeria, and followed every game on Twitter.

And in the newsroom, as the ball hovers around the goalpost and is near in, the FIFA-in-charge colleague goes hammer and tongs at the keyboard – postponing his agony and ecstasy by a few minutes for the sake of the reader. What a season this has been, even for a disinterested cynic like me (or rather, how I started out to be).

And before I can believe this myself, I am actually disheartened that Germany lost to Spain nevertheless looking forward to the team that is going to lift the coveted cup at Johannesburg on Sunday and feeling a tad unhappy the season is over too soon.

Waka waka, indeed, this time for Twitter and its tweeple.