Football World Cup since its debut in 1930 has emerged as the greatest show on earth capturing the imagination and passion of humanity in general. Kushal Chakraborty time travels to recall the many interesting vignettes of the pulsating competition
When Henri Delaney, the secretary of French football association, put his proposal about having a ‘world cup’ to then FIFA president Jules Rimet no one dreamt about the success of the idea. The tournament, since its debut in 1930, has emerged as the greatest show on earth capturing the imagination and passion of humanity in general. It became a tournament that beat the boundaries of culture, religion and languages across the world. The World Cup came to symbolise the ultimate battle of nerves and tactics when the best practitioners of the game come facing each other once every four years.
In 1982, when the World Cup arrived in Spain, South Africa, a nation stricken with apartheid, did not show a single match live on television. The reason was quite obvious; during that time soccer was popular among the blacks while the whites played rugby. Hence, there was no serious effort from the country’s administration to arrange for the live broadcast of the World Cup matches. Soccer came to symbolize the black man’s struggle against apartheid and a nation that once shunned football is now organising the first World Cup in African continent. It took only 28 years to change all that. It was the intense passion for the sport that made the country, still beleaguered with social and economic problems, overcome all obstacles to keep its date with the biggest show on earth. Come June 11, 2010 South Africa’s name will be blazing like the sun in the history of world football.
As World Cup brings together the mightiest footballing nations in a battle royale, the clashes are interwoven with interesting tales of action, emotion and bizarre characters, who make the game even more interesting.
In 1978 World Cup, Peru’s goalkeeper became much talked about for his unorthodox ways. That was Argentine-born Ramon Quiroga, who was nicknamed El Loco (meaning ‘the lunatic’) for his strange idiosyncrasies. When Peru was routed 6-0 by Argentina in the last match of their group league, which helped the latter reach the next round Brazil alleged that Quiroga has played for his original motherland. But Quiroga remained unperturbed and continued to keep firm faith in his own style of football. He never believed in staying put under the goalpost. He would often venture out of his charge and go deep into the opposition territory keeping the goal untended. When he was around in the goal area he would often be seen chatting with the photographers or camera crew standing behind the goal. For him it was a technique of killing boredom.