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Notes from the f-lounge

Embarrassing as it is to admit, loyalty was divided for this fan at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium during the Audi Football Summit. Like most Gen-Y Indians outside of the cocoons called Bengal and Goa, initiation into the most popular game on earth happened through watching not local talent but live games on Doordarshan in the early nineties, the exploits of top international teams in the two quadrennial spectacles of the sport.

sports Updated: Jan 11, 2012 00:08 IST
Kaushik Chatterji

Embarrassing as it is to admit, loyalty was divided for this fan at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium during the Audi Football Summit. Like most Gen-Y Indians outside of the cocoons called Bengal and Goa, initiation into the most popular game on earth happened through watching not local talent but live games on Doordarshan in the early nineties, the exploits of top international teams in the two quadrennial spectacles of the sport.


Almost as soon as computers happened, games did, too. Purists hail Pro Evolution Soccer for its accurate rendition of player movements and realistic IQ. But this couch footballer, having been fed on a steady diet of its desktop demos, prefers the mainstream appeal of EA Sports' FIFA franchise. All one needs is a keyboard whose A, S, D and W keys work, and presto! One can lead FC Bury (yes, Bhutia reference very much intended) to the treble.

Having witnessed Lionel Messi underwhelm Kolkata's Salt Lake Stadium against Venezuela in September, expectations from Delhi's date with Philip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger & Co. needed to be dialled down, given the gulf between the teams. Watching the exhibition mismatch between our national team and a European powerhouse in progress, though, one felt for Bhutia and could not help but wonder how he would have received a rather fitting farewell had this been a computer simulation of the sport instead of an actual match.

Lastly, a word about the security at the two showpiece events. While the Calcuttans let entire backpacks in, their northern counterparts let nothing go by, not even pens or cigarettes. Technically, you were free to claim them on your way out, even as a man in khaki videotaped your every move. But while the pens were all there, as were the cigarette boxes, the latter were conveniently devoid of their contents, much to the chagrin of a bunch of local (but, curiously, not even a single foreign) spectators.