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Copa Cock-Up

29-July-2004
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Copa Cock-Up

Brazil won the Copa. That is no news. You may have read it the other day. That is no cock-up either. Brazilians are no Greeks, who have come from nowhere to win the Cup. Most of us who saw even the pre quarterfinal matches of the Euro Cup with great relish did not see Brazil win the Copa on our TV screens. We just read the news the next day. If that is not a cock-up, I’m willing to be taught all over again.

I count myself among soccer fans. I may not be an obsessive maniac but I have been waking up till the wee hours to catch a good game since the heydays of Franz Beckenbauer and Pablo Rossi. I know for sure that Indians root for Latinos with much more gusto than the Euros. In successive world cups, I saw Indian fans support Brazilians and Argentineans as their own in their encounters with Germans, Dutch and even English. Then why such an apathy for Copa America when Euro Cup, that began barely a fortnight earlier than Copa, got a World Cup like billing among average Indian soccer fans? Specially, considering the fact that Euro Cup was such an anti-climax. Till it was all Greek, it was Czechs, Croats, Portuguese and, hold your breath, Latvians. And here we had the reigning world champs, Brazil, playing their traditional rivals and soccer powerhouse, Argentina in the finals. And all this, preceded by some inspiring soccer from the likes of Peru, Mexico, Chile, Columbia and the rest. Yet, no takers. The Copa games too were also telecast live, on Ten Sports. It seems very few knew. Most dailies that covered Euro Cup with special pages and separate mastheads, complete with pictures and detailed stories, didn’t give Copa even a fraction of that space. The timings too were not any worse than Euro. While most of the Euro games went on till 2.30-3.00 am, Copa games started around 4 am.

Is it because the superstars like Ronaldo and Ronaldinho weren’t playing? Unlikely! After all who was playing for the Croats and the Greeks?

Then, was it because the Copa games lack credibility due to nagging controversies about fixed matches and sold out referees? Not reason enough. It didn’t sink Cricket.

Then, was it Ten Sports that didn’t invest in the build-up?

Most plausible, but the Channel may have its reasons. Who knows!

-- Sushil Pandit

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