Whenever one hears the lines “Tsamina mina, eh, eh Waka waka, eh, eh” or “When I get older I will be stronger, They'll call me freedom just like a wavin' flag”, flashes of the biggest show on Earth, The FIFA World Cup, flashes before our eyes. Whether you are a fan of the prolific striker, Cristiano Ronaldo, and his Portugal, a supporter of the bright red Spanish team and their glorious tiki-taka football, or a fan of German efficiency and their pressing football, or a fan of any of the 32 teams playing in the World Cup, for the next month our eyes will be glued to the television screen as the show unfolds in Qatar this year.
People across the world will watch with bated breath as their respective nations or the nation they support take the centre stage and India is no different. The World Cup fever has hit India but in no cities are the emotions running as high as in Kolkata. Kolkata has one of the most ardent fan bases in the world but the majority of them belong to either of the two camps—Brazil or Argentina. The streets are adorned with Brazilian flags by fans who are lovers of the Joga bonito style of football—the flair and glitz of players such as Ricardo Kaka, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, and many other talented players back in the day, whose skills are now complemented by the likes of Vinicius Junior, Raphinha, Thiago Silva and of course the talismanic figure of Neymar. On the other hand, the streets are flooded with the famous blue and white stripes of Argentina, whose fanbase wants to see the maestro, Lionel Messi lift the famous trophy. So far in the tournament, Argentina has lost their first game, while Brazil has won the first round in the knockout stages.
Kolkata has had a rich history of football, especially with its famous derby of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. The people of the city, even with their nation not representing in the World Cup, have a passionate and even patriotic way of connecting with other World Cup-playing nations, especially the Latin American countries. A particular Kolkata initiative has gone viral in recent days and has even caught the eye of FIFA, who shared it on their Instagram post. Young boys from North Kolkata created a wave of influence as they adorned a North Kolkata lane with World Cup-themed graffiti, wall art, flags, and banners. It was a perfect amalgamation of art and sports as young boys displayed some freestyle tricks and played some street football after decorating the place. The lane now echoes the Latin American grassroots spirit of football, although artworks of other footballing nations and players are also present. This initiative has been spearheaded by Uttar Kolkata Dishari Club.