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Brazil, Pele and football comprised the thrilling peaks of my childhood in football crazy Bengal. Gods were evoked in religious ceremonies for Pele to score World Cup goals. Pele played in four World Cup tournaments, thrice brought home the Cup for Brazil and became the greatest footballer of all time. Crowding around a news paper we’d noisily egg Pele and Brazil on. Even today, Bengalis behave like the Brazilian team belongs to us.
Catapulting myself to France in 1973, my excitement overflowed because for the first time in my life I would be watching the World Cup on TV in 1974. In Paris, outside my basement room in Cité Universitaire’s Greek House hostel was a black & white TV set in the common room. Watching TV was new and luxurious for me, the World Cup was a bonanza. I didn’t know French yet, would I understand? My intimidation dissolved when as I found myself backslapping Greek students, imitating their swear words Ai gamisou! Malakas! Disappointment: Pele was not playing. Discovery: Franz Beckenbauer carried away the 1974 trophy for Germany.
Colourful football: Digital technology has converted football entertainment from lack and white TV images to a plethora of colour. USA first introduced colour TVs in 1950, France and Germany in 1967. In France, the first channel TF1 remained B&W till 1975, so most people watched B&W TV until 1983. World Cup on B&W TV had no real charm like today’s colour. B&W prevented us from recognising the players’ exact jersey colours or different colour flags and ethnic paraphernalia that spectators brought. However, the B&W generation will always “own” Pele. Now high-definition colour TV allows us to watch the match like Pashas, from the comfort of the bed. We scrutinise every detail as football players work hard physically in 90 tension-filled, minutes of full-throttle activity.
We knew football referees as serious, black-outfitted controllers, but World Cup 2014 referees are like colourfully dressed kindergarten students. They carry headphone gadgets, blow whistles, twirl flags, whip up red and yellow cards that don’t look like punishment cards. FIFA may need to change the colour of punishment cards because amongst other colours, their seriousness is diminished. The referee sprays an aerosolised foamy substance that provides temporary visual aid on the green grass. He looks to be decorating for Christmas, but actually he’s demarcating for play after a foul, ensuring 9.1 meters mandatory separation during a free kick is kept. From a distance today’s virtual football generation can see the white foam so no player can cheat.
Actually the World Cup has become a creative canvas. Football boots were always black, continued…