Before you read this post and start fuming let me make this very clear that this is not a patronizing statement but merely an innocent observation. First some background, having an older brother who was a hardcore football fan I was subjected to the game. Over time when I turned into a teenager (and finally started developing my own taste) Football was the game I choose as my favourite- I loved the fast pace, the thrill of only 90 minutes, the course of a match changing in just one goal and most importantly, the loyalty which the fans had for the game.
In India there are plenty of men who are passionate about football and they know their shit. But it’s not the men I’m concerned about- it’s the women. I study in class of 70 students who are learning Mass Communications and will choose Journalism or Advertising as their major. We are the people who- of all the people in the world- should know what is going on in every sphere. Where it is the war in Israel or Kristen Stewart’s new haircut, whether it is Sharapova’s innocent confession about not knowing Tendulkar or Guardians of the Galaxy-it is literally our job to KNOW IT ALL. But inspite of being in a situation like this, half the class doesn’t even know (or care) about Football.
At times when the whole world was arguing about who will win there were only a couple of intelligent (or just well-informed) students who even mentioned FIFA World Cup. Only two of them were girls and shamefully, the extent of their knowledge began and ended at Lionel Messi’s good looks! Most of the girls I’ve met like Ronaldo, Messi or Neymar (some also liked Kaka). But the worst part is as soon as they tell me who their favourite they say “He’s sooooo cute!”
Really? He’s a footballer, the only thing that is relevant is his football skills. It does not matter if David Beckham looks like a Greek God, in the end what we should be judging him on is his skills. Rarely have I ever met a girls who likes (or even knows about) fantastic players like Xavi Hernandez, Mesut Ozil and Robin Van Persie. They only know about one or two players, that too not because of their game or achievement but by seeing them in sportswear commercials. And that’s it, that who they support blindly.
Now let me put a twist in this story and say that even I am a Messi Fanatic. Have you seen him play? Fuck it, it’s hard NOT to be a Messi fanatic. They way he can stay calm in high-pressure games, the way he can the the ball from three other defenders like it’s a cakewalk, the way he brings the ball from halfway off the field into the penalty box and how his magical left leg never misses the mark.
Off course his game wouldn’t be as good if if Xavi, Iniesta and before Villa weren’t in the mid-field- but give the man some personal credit as well. 4 Ballon d’ors- even Pele or Maradona don’t have that.
But the biggest reason why I love Messi so much because he is not selfish like Ronaldo or Neymar- he is a teamplayer. He always puts the needs of his team before his personal glory and that is what I think makes him the best footballer in the world. Argue all you like stubborn Ronaldo fans but while Ronaldo was modelling underwear, Messi was practicing his kicks. Not that Messi doesn’t do commercials, but it never takes his focus off the game. There is so much to like about Leo Messi’s game apart from his looks (which are also pretty delicious mind you) but I wish more girls were intelligent enough to notice.
It worries me greatly that we live in a world that decided who deserves attention or support based on what they look like. It concerns me that I belong to a generation which pays more attention to the logo of the cup and not the coffee inside (looking at you teenagers who buy Forever 21 short, go to Starbucks and click Selfies. Fie on you! Fie!)
It grieves me that it has come to the point where a person’s work does not matter, that their looks and (in some cases) personality are enough to impress thousands. Maybe we choose idiots because we can relate with them? Probably. But one thing is for sure, we accept the heroes we think we deserve.