Saturday, June 26, 2010

(To my Indian friends) Why "you" are not a Brazilian?

I like tragic heroes. Be it in literature or sports, and so the Dutch football team has always been a personal favorite, helped in no small amount by the exquisite crisp football they play. They play like world beaters one day, and lose to an unsuspecting opponent the next day, never really fulfilling the promise they show. Tragic indeed. But what would be more tragic? If I buy an orange shirt, run around my neighborhood with a Netherlands flag, celebrate each their win as "our" win, and when they inevitably lose, pick a fight with someone who denigrated "my" team in anyway.

Oh wait, is not that a majority of Calcuttans (and others from subcontinent) do? Replace Netherlands with the Brazil or Argentina, and during the World cup, you would like think Calcutta is an extended suburb of Rio or Buenos Aires. Except, that it is not. And you make a complete fool of yourself.

You may think dividing the world up in so many countries is purely artificial. However, since that is indeed the case, national identity is synonymous with national pride. Be it for the smallest country playing in the World cup, who would suffer humiliating defeats and go out, their supporters would still be passionately cheering for them till the last whistle. That is why club football is different from international games, or in US, professional sports from college sports. You can be a fan of any club or professional outfit, although in most cases, they loyalty is geographic. However, you can not be a citizen of another country, or somehow be affiliated to a college, unless you are actually one.

I get asked if India is playing in the World cup a lot. While that is embarrassing, at least now I have another team to support, since I have an American passport. I hear all sorts of snide remarks from Indians, starting from who cares about football in USA to they are lucky to win. Well, my friend, this team is at least in the world cup (just an aside, the US soccer federation chief is of Indian descent) while your team is not. No, your team does not wear yellow or striped white-blue colors.

I know you will get angry and hurt hearing that. You have no affiliation/attachment to another country, where you are neither living, nor were born. Liking their football is one thing, but identifying yourself as one of them just betrays your complete lack of national pride, and identity. Whether or not you can sympathize with street children playing the game in rags in Brazil is completely irrelevant here, since they are not unique to Brazil (why not support Ghana then?), and the national team players are hardly underprivileged. You are unlucky that your teams sucks, but that hardly makes you a Brazilian. Even a pseudo-one for a month. Brazil winning is not you winning, it is still they winning. Hard luck.


Bewildered said...

I'm not Indian, but Scotland don't qualify these days either and I've always supported brazil as well. I just don't see the difference between an Indian or Scot passionately cheering for Brazil and someone born in Brazil. Unless they are playing it's not their success, it's all by proxy.

And while you are right that the world cup is set up in terms of nationalities, the fun and excitement of supporting a team doesn't derrive from the fact that you were born in the same coutry as the team you cheer for. So why be bound by it?

Munmun said...

Didn't read the blog post, but I really like the current template of your blog!

Munmun said...

Didn't read the blog post, but I really like the current template of your blog!

dipthought said...

@Peter: We already debated this to death elsewhere ;-)

@Munmun: Thanks! You stopped blogging. :(