The article was first published in the Sports Tribune's 2018 Fifa World Cup magazine on June 13
The Fifa World Cup, the greatest show on earth, is here. Thirty-two nations will fight for the ultimate glory, while several players will battle hard in the field to glorify their names in the history books.
The World Cup fever has also struck Bangladesh as millions of fans have already started predicting the winners and the losers. Like every World Cup edition in the past decade or so, this time as well the supporters have hoisted their favourite team’s flag in their household rooftop, and even workplace.
Bangladesh fans are currently heavily engaged with the game of cricket as the national team have achieved significant successes in the world stage in the past decade. In contrast, football in Bangladesh has lost its golden days and the nation now sit at 194th position in the Fifa ranking. But when it comes to the World Cup, crazy football fans across the country join the party of the greatest show on earth.
In recent times, the craziness and support towards one’s favourite team sometimes crosses the limit. Young people these days vigorously debate as to who is the best player - Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Neymar - and crosses the line often. Supporting one team or a particular player blindly is not a problem at all. But alarming thing is, people these days abuse their counterpart supporters or opponents quite freely in the social media platforms. For instance, a person supporting Argentina or Messi humiliates the Brazil team or Neymar, and vice versa. It does not reflect true sportsmanship.
A die-hard Neymar fan often criticises Ronaldo or Messi and posts humiliating photoshopped pictures or memes on facebook. Similar things are happening to other players as well. People are sharing these kinds of memes thousands of times. It’s not necessary to humiliate your opponent in such a way. The battle should only be on the field, and not off it.
During the World Cup, the country becomes divided into two groups. One group supports Brazil while the other roots for Argentina. There is a strong supporter base in Bangladesh for Brazil as they are the most successful football nation with five World Cup titles.
On the other hand, Argentina’s fan base is also huge in Bangladesh, thanks to Diego Maradona’s magical performances in the 1980s and 90s. Many also started supporting Argentina because of Messi, one of the best ever footballers who continuously amazes world football with his brilliance and stunning performances.
Often, these two groups of supporters clash with each other. Brazil are often mocked by the term “7-up” as they conceded seven goals against Germany in the 2014 World Cup. Brazil fans also mock Argentina supporters regarding the number of World Cups the Argentines have won – two against Brazil’s five. Brazil fans also take pleasure with the fact that Argentina last won the World Cup 32 years ago in 1986.
Supporting a team or a particular player is one thing, but disrespecting opponents never reflects true sportsmanship. Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Luis Suarez, among others, maybe fearsome rivals on the pitch, but off the field, these superstars always respect each other in every possible way.
So people, enjoy the beautiful game of football. You may argue about the performance of your rivals but don’t cross the limit and get too emotional. Let football, the beautiful game, be the ultimate winner.