Something to please the cricket-baiters

EVEN in cricket mad India, soccer mania has taken over with the World Cup getting prime space both in the print as well as the electronic media. In spite of India winning the one-day series in West Indies and the teams for the triangular as well as the Tests in England announced, it was soccer that stayed in the main news and that must have pleased the cricket-baiters. Even when India begins the triangular series the soccer mania will be coming to a climax and unless India plays outstanding cricket it will be soccer that will rule the hearts and minds of the people.

If that can happen in India where football is not the most popular sport one can understand how in countries where it is the numero uno sport the passions will be rising and falling with each match. Emotions will be high and the pressure even higher on the players and managers of the teams. After all this is the event that they have all waited and worked towards for the last four years.

By the end of the first round of group matches the defending champion France were out of the tournament having failed to score a goal in their three group matches. The reaction was swift and the coach has tendered his resignation though how a coach can be held responsible for the shoddy work on the field is a little difficult to understand. The same will happen to the Argentinean coach for soccer is king in the South American continent and Argentina were hot favourites for the title. They did not even qualify for the next round and more than that the loss to England will definitely hurt.

Argentina and England have a history of strained relations and that can be seen in the rough and tough football that is played between the two countries. Argentina's boasts of England quaking in their boots came to nothing and Argentina have themselves to blame for the needless foul that allowed England to score from the subsequent penalty. It allowed the England captain David Beckham to exorcise the ghost of 1998 when he was sent off and England played the rest of the game then with ten men. Beckham was a villain then for English fans, being booed, hissed at and even spat on but over the last year he has become the darling of the fans which just goes to show how fickle they are in any sport, influenced as they are by the British media which often does not know right from left. One has no access to the Argentinean media to know if they are making any excuses for their defeat but knowing the way the British media operates one could be certain that if the result was the reverse then there would have been any number of excuses but no acknowledgement that their team was inferior on the day. The scapegoat of course would have been the coach for he is not English and he still may well be so sooner or later.

The boasts of France and Argentina may well be part of modern sport where every conceivable advantage is sought to be taken to win but their downfall also shows that even the mighty can be humbled. Even in boxing the disgusting noise that Mike Tyson made before his bout with Lennox Lewis saying that he would kill Lewis and his family, that he would pluck his heart out, etc. made one's stomach turn. In the end Tyson himself was beaten to pulp by an inspired Lewis who fought what many genuine experts believe to be the perfect fight. Of course it was no surprise to hear what some in the British media had to say after that and that was that Lewis was the greatest heavyweight boxer ever. Yes, so what about Joe Louis and Muhamad Ali? But then when it comes to being rational about English sport the media there is way back in queue and which is why the world loves to see the England team beaten even though they have nothing against the sportspersons themselves. Its some from the media there that create this feeling and make it that much harder for their players because every opponent tries that bit more against the English.

With the Indian cricket team in England even as you are reading this do not be surprised to read articles finding fault with everything that Ganguly does. The English media has already decided that they do not like him so they will put any and every blame at his door and at the same time try to show a balance will occasionally go ga-ga over Tendulkar. The targeting of Ganguly will also be with a specific aim of demoralising him and the team and unfortunately in this they will be aided by some in the Indian media who do not like the Indian captain. Ganguly is a tough nut to crack and all this will be water over a duck's back for him, for he truly is the modern Indian without any inferiority complex, which is exactly what those with the same complexes do not appreciate and like. It is the typical crab syndrome where the rest of the crabs pull back the one trying to escape.

Be that as it may, it is the Soccer World Cup that is grabbing attention now and is coming nicely to a nail-biting finish. The Wimbledon Tennis Championships will also take a backseat to the world's most popular sport though the last few rounds of Wimbledon will be after the World Cup is over.

By that time many a reputation will have been either enhanced or rubbished, even as the winning team captain raises the Cup to the skies in jubilation.