We Indians love our Cricket. The idea of two stick wielding gentlemen hitting a ball to all parts of the ground with eleven other men running behind it thrills us. Some of us will religiously follow every cricket match, even the insignificant ones. It’s a wonder why Hockey is our national sport then, it clearly isn’t anymore. Yet, once every four years, when the FIFA World Cup comes calling, we all want to be known as the greatest football expert ever.
Some of us though, find it hard to make meaningful conversation when the talk revolves around football. All we can do is stare into oblivion, or maybe make do with a smile and a generous dosage of affirmative nods.
So if you’re one of those who tried oh-so-hard to keep up with the football frenzy, and yet learnt nothing from the experience, here are some things you can CLAIM to have learnt about football after the FIFA World Cup 2014:-
- The World Cup is truly a WORLD event – With more than 200 countries playing football, the FIFA World Cup truly is a world event. So what if 35% of the world’s population (read: China and India) don’t get to play at the finals? Our claim to fame are the Olympics (China) and the Cricket World Cup (India, nevermind that England and her former colonies are the only ones who play the sport)
- Well ‘rounded’ tournament – The FIFA World Cup has many stages – the Group stage (eight groups with four teams each), the round of 16 (pre-quarter finals), the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final. How many teams do we have at the Cricket World Cup?
- Footballers take inspiration from other sports – Apart from a few slightly complicated rules, (the offside rule for example) football is a simple sport that involves kicking a ball into your opponents’ goal post. Hence, footballers consider it their duty to make the sport more appealing, by including aspects of other sports. Diving, for example (Robben, Cristiano Ronaldo, Welbeck), is an art that very few can perfect. Wrestling is another sport that is increasingly gaining popularity among footballers. Honduras took the term ‘fighting for a win’ too seriously. Too bad Portugal crashed out at the group stages, we hardly got to see Pepe in action.
- What goes up will come down, and how – Spain was the perfect example of a meteoric rise followed by an abrupt thud. The defending champions were the first team to crash out of the World Cup. And it wasn’t pretty.
- Global Team – Switzerland was the perfect example of a global team, with immigrants constituting almost 80% of the squad. Not surprisingly, USA came a close second in this aspect.
- If you can’t beat em, bite em – Uruguay’s Luis Suarez showed us that he was good not just with his feet, but also with his teeth. In doing so, the ex-Liverpool forward he made us realise that not all the knowledge we received at school was accurate. The food chain, for instance, should have actually looked like this.
- Non-football attraction – Some teams made more news for their female fans than for their football - Mexico, Ecuador, Belgium, Algeria and South Korea to mention a few. Turkey, Sweden and the Czech Republic were missed.
- No cup for one-man teams – Brazil’s show at the World Cup proved that football is a ‘team’ game. With Neymar having to leave the tournament mid-way with a back injury, Brazil suddenly lost their magic. Although they reached the semi-final, their journey was hardly convincing. Their last two matches showed their vulnerability. Messi managed to take Argentina to the final, but the writing was already on the wall. Germany, the real ‘team’, were deserving champions. Building a team around one player is not a good idea after all.
- How to celebrate goals – Columbia showed the world how to celebrate goals. Every goal had a unique dance move to go with it.
- Managers can be fun to watch too – Those who watched Mexican coach Miguel Herrera in action will vouch for this. This guy was all over the place during Mexico’s games.
Images courtesy: www.wpmedia.o.canada.com, www.express.co.uk, www.epa.gov, www.ibtimes.co.uk