I don’t follow football! Yes, I don’t have a favourite team - the closest I have ever gotten to it was when I played FIFA video games with my friends or back when Ronaldo had not gotten a hair transplant and was not such a Prince Charming lookalike, oh wait, that’s not the same guy - that explains a lot. By the way, we must limit the number of Ronaldos in one era, so that it’s easy to remember who is who. They are becoming the Khans of soccer.
Exactly the way people from Rawalpindi think it’s cooler to live in ‘Pind’ rather than Islamabad, just because they have the GHQ. Or maybe how ‘Innocent Badshah’ from across the Clifton Bridge, comes for his weekly foreign tour to Pakistan’s equivalent of Jumeirah, every Saturday night, only to ride back at midnight with a loud silencer (oxymoron) and ripped skin tight jeans. A very similar divide exists between the different kinds of football fans in Pakistan.
The first one is the “Tony” fan. You will find the “Tony” sporting a Manchester United jersey as he walks into Ami’s superstore to buy food for Fluffy. No, that is not his hairy girlfriend but, in fact, his pet cat. His day doesn’t end till he sends her (the girlfriend not Fluffy) a selfie on Snapchat. And the girl responds with an audio message on Whatsapp saying “Oh my God, I love you my Messi”, as she yells at her maasi for ruining her ironed clothes. Yes ladies and gentlemen, her maasi is the closest she had ever gotten to knowing about Messi before the World Cup, but then again, you can’t do anything about true love. It happens, just like an own goal.
For the second kind of football fans, it’s more of a generational affair. Not only to watch football, but to dodge bullets and brawls to watch it as a group on a friend’s rooftop. This particular group will always support one team for ages. One wonders why the Lyari boys are still supporting Brazil after all these years? Do they think that if they change their favourite team now we will call them lotas? Or maybe it’s because they are dark skinned too, if so, then why not support Ivory Coast or Nigeria? This is not politics; you can change your favourite team anytime you want.
And then there are people who are standing on the LOFC (Line of FIFA Control) and don’t know jack about the sport but need to have an opinion. Why? Well, it’s simply because everyone in Pakistan needs to have an opinion about everything. Be it is the timing of operation Zarb-e-Azb or whether Suarez should have been banned for his Bhakkar antics.
“I will support Iran because they are Muslims!” “But this is a sport, not whoever wins the World Cup rules the world tournament” “No! We should support our brothers in war and fun” “Okay…why don’t you support Ghana, it has several muslim players?” “Because….they are… umm… not brownish like us?”
In the middle are people like us, who don’t really care but have friends who do, so now we need to be present in the match screenings and pretend that we care that Spain is out of the race. Even our local media has post and pre-match shows where they have gotten awkward looking teenagers to talk about the World Cup. Boys who probably didn’t even watch the match saying things like, “my advice to Muller is to play more aggressively.” For them, my advice is shut up and go treat your pimples!
The only thing we have common with FIFA World Cup 2014 is that players from all around the world are kicking our balls. Yes! We made the official ball for the cup, but, that’s it. So let’s wait for our cup, which is the cricket World Cup 2015! Because that, sir, is our game! Even though it’s a British sport and the Brits played it when they got too tired of ruling us and we learnt it by being their water boys. But hey screw kushti and hockey, cricket yaayyy!
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2014.
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