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The football hangover

  • Published at 06:02 pm July 19th, 2018
Clubs often perform better than national sides Photo: REUTERS

Football happens all year every year -- no need to wait for the World Cup

Every four years, during the FIFA World Cup, the world stops to stare at their television screens (mobiles, laptops, tabs included) to watch one of the greatest games in the world -- football. 

A lot of “patriotism” flows out of the fans for the countries they support for one whole month. Countries like Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy (sorry, not this time), Germany, Spain have their flags flying high and virtual wars are fought over them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

It is an educative carnival too, where people during that month try to find information and learn about the teams and their players, for example, people often ask where Colombia or Costa Rica are. 

The tongs boom with football-related heated arguments, with passionate discussions over Brazil and Argentina. The big teams and names of players are remembered, especially the ones who score the most goals. All these are important, but only during the carnival. 

After the tournament ends, we go back to our regular lives and wait for the month-long ecstasy that will come and sweep us away four years later. 

Right now, there is a World Cup hangover after the tournament. Many a fan will either take up playing football or watching leagues and tournaments such as English Premier League, La Liga, and UEFA Champions League to maintain that high. 

To some fans, it will be a challenge. Whereas, to others, it will be a severe blow to witness clubs perform better than national teams of countries. After all, who is a better performer? A team that practices all year round, or one that is rounded up which practices occasionally in a year and mostly every four years or so? Fan following may shift from countries to clubs, and then from clubs to countries. 

People who have been following leagues must have been either excited or torn apart to watch club members face each other this tournament, for they too are “patriotic” to their imagined entities -- clubs. Modric and Rakitic from Real Madrid and Barcelona, rather than from Croatia, got on so well and are now in the finals. 

How difficult it must have been for Cristiano Ronaldo to go up against Sergio Ramos from RM in one of the most loved matches during the season, or for Umtiti and Suarez from Barcelona in the quarters. 

The title of “bromance” in football goes to Romel Lukaku and Paul Pogba from Manchester United, who faced each other during the semi-finals between Belgium and France and who knows what Man-U fans with extended loyalties have gone through. 

England had 23 players from their squad belonging to various clubs in the EPL. “Regular” footballers (no celebrity status) and an “unknown” squad worked together despite their club differences and rivalries, and reached the semi-finals. On the other hand, star-studded celebrity footballers have been outperformed because of their lack of “team” spirit. 

How depressing it was to watch some of our favourite countries lose the first round, the second round, and the quarter finals. Not for a dearth of individual talent, but for a lack of cooperation. Just like how our favourite teams were formed while we were coming of age, so did our idea of football.

Maybe we have elevated it to religion only to be worshipped every “leap” year.

But should the idea of football remain within the realm of World Cup alone, when there are hundreds of matches played all year round, which are not less adrenaline-pumping by any means, but at times, more? 

Aunik Arnold Dhali is a freelance contributor.