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ICC needs to learn from FIFA

I was in Zurich when Switzerland defeated Spain in the World Cup. The entire city came to a standstill and when they scored the solitary goal, the city screamed in unison, Aakash Chopra recounts his World Cup experience.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2010 23:41 IST
Aakash Chopra

I was in Zurich when Switzerland defeated Spain in the World Cup. The entire city came to a standstill and when they scored the solitary goal, the city screamed in unison.

I thought, why are the cheers back home not loud enough? We do celebrate our wins in the World Cup, yet, definitely not in this manner. Most cricket-playing countries can never match the euphoria of a soccer-playing nation.

What’s the difference?

Soccer is mainly a club-oriented sport played in competitive leagues. Countries don’t play against each other that often and hence whenever they do, fans get involved.

Cricket is predominately a country versus country sport and in order to keep the moolah coming, we have abused it to the extent that it doesn’t hold the same charm. While the World Cup is still coveted, it lacks the novelty of its soccer counterpart. I’m not suggesting more leagues like the IPL because the paucity of good cricket-playing nations is a limitation.

What’s the next best thing? Perhaps, reducing the number of matches or getting rid of meaningless tournaments.

It won’t be a bad idea to take a leaf out of FIFA’s book.

Despite soccer being popular, it hasn’t left a stone unturned to take it to the next level i.e. adding new followers.

FIFA has organised fan fests around the world by hiring a big arena, almost the size of a football field, split into two. On one side they’d put up a huge screen, which shows the live coverage with an open but carpeted field for people to watch the game. The other half is utilised to create a small soccer field. The idea is to encourage parents to bring their kids. The ICC can also do something similar involving their sponsors, most definitely in countries, where they intend to introduce cricket.

The ICC has nearly nine months to figure out a plan so that the 2011 World Cup doesn’t flop like the 2007 World Cup.