The first football World Cup I remember having followed was the 1982 Espana, which was won by Italy. This I followed through the colourful pages of Sportstar — arguably India’s finest sports magazine.
Fuelled by that and also the availability of matches on Doordarshan, I closely followed the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, which was won by Argentina who were led inspirationally by Diego Maradona.
I also followed the 1990 Italia World Cup which was won by Germany defeating Argentina in a reversal of the previous tournament’s final. I was rooting for Argentina and saw all their matches where their second-choice goalkeeper Goycochea (who had to play because first-choice goalkeeper Pumpido — who had blundered in an earlier match — broke his leg on the field) defended quite a few shots during penalty shoot-outs. For the final, while the teams were lining up, I dozed off in front of the television set, only to wake up just as they were showing visuals of distraught Argentinians and jubilant Germans at the end of the match!
The 1994 World Cup in USA was won by Brazil defeating Italy in the finals, with Roberto Baggio infamously missing his penalty shot! A moment I remember from one of the USA matches was their goatee-sporting player Alexi Lallas almost scoring a goal with a bicycle kick worthy of Pele!
The 1998 World Cup in France was my first experience of community football watching — in the hostel of IIM Indore — with Saurabh Prasad letting out the choicest of abuses every time Roberto Carlos delayed passing the ball onto the forwards! France led by Zinedine Zidane shocked the defending champions Brazil in the finals. Star player Ronaldo did not play in the finals reportedly suffering fits before the match. This undoubtedly gave birth toseveral conspiracy theories!
It was during the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan that I attained ‘nirvana’ of football watching by refusing to have any favourites, either expressed or supressed. Regardless of who won, it was football that I was watching and enjoying — all the more in the finals, where Brazil defeated Germany.
It is 2006-Germany, and the quarter-final between Brazil and France is going on even as I write this post. It doesn’t matter to me who wins eventually. (Update: France just won)
It was 1977 when the then President of India Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed died while in office. He was succeeded by Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy who was elected unopposed.
In 1982 Giani Zail Singh became the President of India, as part of Indira Gandhi’s attempt at mollifying/manipulating the Punjab crisis. Towards the end of his term, the Giani fell out with the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The Vice-President and ex-minister R Venkataraman, became the next President of India. The same being the case in the next round in 1992 when Shankar Dayal Sharma became the President and in 1997 when K R Narayanan became the President. In 2002, towards the end of his tenure, Narayanan was reportedly interested in another term but was denied by the NDA government and A P J Abdul Kalam became the President and Krishna Kant the Vice-President.
So what does all this have to do with the topic of this post?
In both these — the football World Cup and the Indian presidential (& vice-presidential) elections — in the last 3-4 instances that I have been following — there are two names that have figured as contenders repeatedly — England and Dr. Karan Singh!
The media surely plays favourites — not out of some emotional affinities, but due to behind the scene lobbying and manipulation through aggressive public relations management.
Before every World Cup, the media starts building hype that spills into discussions at work places (and other social forums) that England is one of the favourites just as the tournament starts. This is further aided by the fact that most of the English players are already known faces — thanks to extensive coverage of the English Premier League. And yet every time since 1982 (when I started following football World Cups) England has never made it beyond the semi-finals. And never did they look a cut above the rest.
Similarly, every time presidential elections are to take place, the media starts planting names in our minds saying these are ‘doing the rounds’ of the corridors that matter. And invariably the name of Dr. Karan Singh is thrown up — with the media more than keen to do a strength-weakness analysis for him every time! And he has never actually been a serious contender, leave aside, a worthy one!
The next presidential elections are slated to be held in 2007, and Dr. Karan Singh’s name may crop up yet again. And just an hour ago, England lost yet again!
See I told you well in time! The Deccan Chronicle of July 03, 2006 already has started the exercise of ‘throwing up’ (ewwww) names of ‘aspirants’ (now speak this aloud in the film awards functions style) ‘…and the names as of now are: Atal Behari Vajpayee, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat (current Vice-President), H D Deve Gowda, and… and… and… yes you guessed it, DR. KARANNNNNNN SINGHHHHHHHH!!!