Football fever has gripped the sporting world as the FIFA World Cup is coming to the business end of the competition.
There have been no real surprises so far in the knockouts, but there were plenty of them in the group stage. Just as in the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup a few weeks ago, so-called minnows and lower-ranked teams stunned the heavyweights. There is something about representing your country at world events that make the players make the extra effort and try that much harder. They are well aware that they will probably be remembered forever for what they achieve in the global event.
What will be also remembered is the explosive media conference before the start of the tournament, in which FIFA president Gianni Infantino tore into the Western media for their hypocrisy. Every time a non-Western or non- European country gets to host a world sporting competition, the Western media will look to question the allocation of the event and the readiness of the developing country to host it. If these attacks were restricted to their countries’ media it would not be an issue at all, but developing countries have many in their ranks who are only too happy to parrot the Western media and try and demoralise those in the host country working to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Look at how some sections of the Indian media vehemently criticised the Delhi Commonwealth Games. When the athletes left the Delhi Commonwealth Games Village, those who had participated in the earlier Commonwealth Games were all praise for the Delhi Games, saying they were the best they had been to. If those who found faults with the Games had tried to go to London around that time, they would have seen that even a so-called developed country like England was struggling to get the stadia up in time and had issues, none of which were being highlighted by their media.
Even now, look at the way some sections of the media — especially the finance media — keeps trying to run down the IPL by bringing out some irrelevant data and information. Have you ever heard of any British or European media trying to run down their own football leagues like Premier League and such like? Are you saying that there’s nothing wrong with them? That their viewership has not dwindled even a wee bit or attendances dropped at all? Sure it has, but that’s never headlines in their media. If anything, their media will paint a rosy picture as if everything is hunky dory.
Be that as it may, the IPL keeps breaking the ceiling with its TV and digital rights as also the title and various other sponsorship rights.
What is baffling is that those who are known because they write about the game and earn a living because of it are trying to harm the very thing that keeps food and more on their table. Not for a moment is it being suggested that the IPL or Indian cricket is above criticism. But what is unacceptable is criticism for criticism’s sake and an effort to sensationalise trivial things.
Hopefully the new year ushers in new appreciation and understanding. Or is that too much to hope for?