On July 6, 2018, the FIFA World Cup Quarterfinals were going on and Brazil was playing Belgium. Both teams were favourites in this edition of the World Cup and it was a great match that Belgium won 2-1. At the end of the match, I had to rush to a Boutique Cake shop that was closing soon and as I entered the shop I saw the owner wearing a Brazil Jersey. I felt bad for her and after ordering the cake I offered a few words of sympathy. She said ” You know we played well and this is just a game right? We were unlucky and the other team defended really well. We had so much ball possession and just couldn’t find the net!”. I was astonished at how cool and unperturbed she was with this loss. I came back home with the cake and opened my Facebook account and there was a swarm of posts from friends in India cursing Brazil for their loss (the team and the players), cursing Belgium for winning the match, cursing the referee and putting up angry protests. I thought that might be the general reaction in Brazil and texted my Brazilian friends living in Brazil and Canada and all of them responded in the way the lady has responded.
I am still at loss at the reactions. I personally don’t have any Argentine friends but connected with a few of them on social media but the outcry of the Indian Argentine fans and the abusive languages they used towards Messi and his compatriots were shocking. There were posts, videos, memes and more targetting each team that has lost (Spain, Portugal, Germany, Argentina, Brazil) and who have a large number of followers in India and the subcontinent. I find it amusing that these fans consider themselves so involved with these teams that they behave outrageously when their team loses. But these teams are not really their teams, these players are not their own players. A long time in Indian cricket we have debated who the best player is and who the best Captain is and when fans get involved in these then it makes sense because they can easily connect with these players. But when I see on social media people from the subcontinent exchanging abuses between themselves for Real Madrid or Barcelona, Manchester United or Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal, AC Milan or Inter Milan then it makes no sense to me. I agree that you get emotionally involved with the team you follow and support but humanity should always come first, etiquette should come first, manners should come first and love should come first. Abusing players, teams and other human beings for winning or losing a game is a sign of losing one’s sanity.
I think as followers of sports, a lover of sports and an enthusiast of sports one should be careful with their fandom. There’s already too much hatred in the world, already too many fights in the name of organized religion, caste, race, colour, border, trade etc. etc. etc. Sports especially team sports like football (read soccer), hockey, rugby, cricket etc. has been shown to foster unity and kinship among people of different countries. Let’s not taint the image of fans of these great sports, let’s make a choice to show our frustration by congratulating the winning teams and not cursing them, let’s make the players and the teams proud, let’s evolve from the SANITY and VANITY to have a different FANITY!!!!!!!!