Latin Americans have always been the uncrowned kings of world soccer. The grand gala event started with samba, salsa and full of colours. The early exit of top class champions Brazil and Argentina left many diehard fans disinterested in the rest of the tournament. From the beginning FIFA 2006 promised a lot of fun and thrill. Many goalless matches disappointed huge onsite gatherings and thirty two billion worldwide television watchers. It turned out to be all European semifinals and a war between archenemies French and Italians in Berlin in the final count. Irrational refereeing and simulation were the most important highlight of the event. In a way the card show in this FIFA cup was based on the amount of noise a team made. This was nakedly visible for every spectator far and wide.
Fouling gave French hero Zidane to kick the first goal to add enthusiasm to the eagerly awaiting spectators. Marco Materazi felt sad and heartbroken for that silly chance given to the French side to cheer in the seventh minute of the game. He took his vengeance to his heart and waiting for the moment to give it back powerfully. In another twelve minutes came his magic. Perfectly he shot a header that went right inside the goalpost. The men in blue went in ruptures, so also their supporters across the world. Soon after there was lull before the storm struck in the second half with Henry taking leads but without any breakthrough. After a little French toast, the match was pushed to boredom. Extra time and Zidane’s bullish pierce on the Materazi’s chest brought back the game. What made the celebrated French star to hit out at Materazi? Did he mutter some abuse that turned Zidane back to do the unpardonable act? Now it is an officially known secret – Materazi abused him in dirty words. This may be the preplanned strategy of the Italian team to send the perfect goal striker Zidane out of the game before the penalty shoot out. France without Zidane and Henry in the final shoot out? Meticulously it worked out and Italians walked away with the heavy gold glittering cup home. Apart from the ethical angle in this issue, the simple human weakness of reacting to provocation should have been dealt with before the start of the match. A sporting team needs to look at every side of the game to win. Not just kicking and meticulous goal shooting. Understanding the enemy camp’s SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) is a must for winning. The French have failed in this count and they have lessons to learn for their future in the game.
In all this drama of elimination of soccer stars from Latin America at the early stage, funny refereeing, and infamous Zidane’s clash and ouster, Indians were thick and thin. Millions of Indians missed their sound sleep and watched the world cup matches with full interest. Schools postponed their exams due to excess keenness of kids in football, office productivity crashed down with soccer fever running high, every gully in the country saw Ronaldos, Ronaldinhos, Zidanes, Beckhams in the making. Despite India being in the 179th position of world soccer playing nations, generous Indians cheered their favourite teams and gave much push to the advertisement revenues of ESPN sports. Our union commerce minister. Kamal Nath was five hours late for Doha round of WTO talks because of his utmost attention was in the soccer matches. Result of this we lost meaningful dialogue and concentre bargaining. Nevertheless we happily financed his fancy trip to Doha just to ensure his football watching in a more pleasant external environment F.M radios, T.V channels, restaurants, pavement sellers and young and old alike participated enthusiastically in this gala event by shouting non stop for this or that teams Grand mas and grand pas shifted their sleeping schedule to catch up with soccer so that they can debate the Rooneys and Zidanes style next day with their grand children. Truly we deserve the best spectator nation gold cup!