Not yet being the masterful footballers that we hope to be in the future, Indians fans of the Beautiful Game were delighted to find Lionel Messi being anointed as the Fifa Footballer of the Year for the second year running. For those of us who followed the Argentine forward during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, we tend to remember those glorious runs from the 23-year-old rather than the Spanish victory in the finals (never mind the 0-4 rout of Argentina against Germany in the quarter-final). But it is the Messi of Barcelona FC who has taken his art and craft with the football to another level. So it is the sheer mastery at the club level that makes the man from Rosario in Argentina deserving of the Golden Ball award for his continuing excellence.
If desi Barca and Argentina fans are delighted, imagine the monstrous joy of Barcelona Barca fans considering that apart from Messi in the reckoning for the Golden Ball, there were also fellow Barca mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez. Some club fanatics are reportedly upset that a Spaniard didn't get to lift the coveted prize. But for most Barcelona fans, this kind of thinking is poppycock. What mattered was 'one of us' from their club, Barcelona FC, got the title, not whether that player was an Argentine, Spaniard or a Martian.
There is something here that Kolkatans, stapled to their rigid sense of seeing the universe in terms of 'Bengali vs non-Bengali', can learn from. Kolkata club football may be still languishing in the Hooghly, but the reaction to Sourav Ganguly not being chosen as part of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team in IPL4 has resulted in a collective howling at the 'Moon Moon'. If Barca's joy for Messi's honour teaches them anything, it is that KKR fans should be loyal to their club and those playing for it; not to individuals venerated according to their ethnicity-based iconhood.