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A passion for the beautiful game

Keralites are known for their huge love for football. A large section of its population follows the European leagues religiously. But the culmination of it all that keeps the whole State in a frenzy is the major international tournaments such as the World Cup, Euro and Copa America.

During these tournaments, it feels like most villages and households turn into an extension of the participating nations. At times, multiple nations will be present in a family, and the fan wars are intensely fought. Hoarding and banner wars during this period are well documented and even shared by the social media handles of certain international teams. Streets get decorated by the national flags of the favourite teams and the jerseys become style statements.

But this time around, the situation was different when the first whistle went off in Euro and Copa America. As different parts of the State were under various stages of lockdown, the restrictions denied fans an opportunity to gather and celebrate. The pandemic had also weakened the financial capacity required to erect hoardings and hold celebrations.

But all these hardships are not powerful enough to extinguish the fire of football inside the Malayali heart. Fans watched the games the whole night, screaming at the top of their lungs when the ball crossed a certain white line on a different continent. They somehow broke away from the offside trap that the pandemic had set over the last year or so. The jam-packed stadia of Denmark and Finland filled our minds with positivity that the world had started its journey towards better times. After all, this is that one religion or festival that truly unites the world beyond differences. We saw glimpses of that beautiful feeling unfolding in the Denmark vs Finland game after the unfortunate collapse of Christian Eriksen. The Danish players coming together to cover their beloved teammate from the prying camera eyes, the Finland fans lending their national flag to ensure the privacy of Eriksen while he was being carried off, and both sets of fans chanting his name in unison were truly the visuals that the healing world needed now.

Throughout the tournaments, fans donned the coach’s hat and made the best plan for their teams to succeed. Instead of public spaces, virtual spaces facilitated discussions, banter and intense arguments.

Amid all this unfamiliar chaos, the one dream that keeps us motivated is that by the time the globe comes again together for the World Cup in 2022, we will be having our old ways back. The one-liners, the shaved heads as a result of bets, and above all that sheer joy of screaming and hugging your pal when someone has scored a goal in some part of the world. But for the time being, it has to be like this, but we will surely come back and our banners are going to be catchier and the banter is going to be funnier.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 2:47:46 AM |

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