Today I experienced what was easily the best moment of my football career - officiating a match between Argentina and that country where they get all the Ms. Universe's from - in Kolkata! I must admit I was a little scared initially - the only other time 50,000 people get together in West Bengal is to organize a Naxal attack or shut down a factory - but this was different! Lionel Messi was in Kolkata! I mean so was the rest of the Argentinean team, but frankly it's like the Indian women's cricket team - you only know Anjum Chopra and you can't really pronounce the others names.
The match itself was a lot of hard work. They made us run around more in the first 15 minutes than we do an entire domestic season. The last time I saw so many sweaty, hunky Spanish speaking men on a field was in a YouPorn video. Hell, even Baichung Bhutia was in the crowd - though I felt a little sad that this was the closest he'd ever get to Messi.
Did you know the AIFF invested 15 crores to just upgrade the stadium! I mean its still 1/3rd of what we spend on a Durga Puja pandal - but not bad for the AIFF no? I was told the hardest part was removing the stones from the pitch incase a player broke his foot kicking the ball. If only they showed as much concern for Indian games. To be fair though atleast they can use it for politician's kids weddings like they use the CWG stadiums. But no amount of money can change our habit of crowding around a celebrity even if it's in the dugout seconds before the start of play. Everyone was walking around carrying his or her digicam only to take a one armed picture with Messi. Atleast there was no Novy Kapadia running around in shorts.
I'd write more, except I have to go back to my miserable nameless existence of being a domestic football referee. Though I must admit, after our cricketing summer, it was nice to see a team in blue and white win.