With three days left for the 2014 FIFA World Cup to start, football lovers in the city are falling prey to the so-called ‘football fever’ gripping the world. The city is known for its keen interest in sports which leaves no surprises that though India has no representation in international football, many are rooting for their favourite international players.
If the sale in jerseys at retail sports outlets is something to go by, the response towards the World Cup has been resounding. “German national jerseys are the most popular and they are running out of stock. Next in demand are Argentina and Spain. We expect sales to pick up even more when the tournament starts. Later, it will depend on team or individual performances,” said Manish Jain, owner, Adidas, Sector 17.
“Three out of five pieces of the official ball ‘Brazuca’ have already been sold,” he added. Nike is the sponsor for 10 international teams, including home team Brazil, Portugal, France, England and Netherlands. “World Cup jerseys and merchandise seem to be more popular than the Indian cricket team jersey. It is going to continue in this vein at least till the tournament ends,” said Rakesh Sharma, store manager, Nike, Sector 17.
Besides, various football fan groups in Chandigarh have cropped up online in the run up to the tournament. Facebook groups such as Chandigarh Football Stadium and Football FanClub Chandigarh are keeping tabs on team popularity among members along with lively updates on the latest news regarding the tournament from around the world.
Seeing that the 2014 tournament is littered with new and young players in most teams, it is bound to have a huge fan following among youngsters. Names like Neymar (Brazil) and Eden Hazard (Belgium) seem to be familiar with fans. Fourteen-year-old Raghav Sharma, clutching a football in hand, said, “I am rooting for Brazil because one of my favourite footballers, Neymar, is playing for the team. It will be interesting to watch him play for Brazil at home.”