Hello boys and girls! Here am I back again!! (SFX of wild screams of terror, stampeding hordes, and CG of black mind-killing clouds gathering over a fleeing mob).
After 32 days, the world gets back to its usual schizophrenic self. After 32 days, the universe starts to move again. After 32 days, Mumbai is back to normal – the familiar sights of waterlogged streets, the familiar noise of the Shiv Sena lumpens hitting the roads and pavements, the familiar sound of blasting bombs, all of these are back after the hiatus of 32 days since the World Cup began.
Like all football fans and pundits, it is now time for us to examine, analyse and honour/chastise the various players, refs, etc who were involved in the spectacle. Since I am a Bong, what better way to do it than to institute the Rossogolla Awards? I hope that over time, these awards will reach the stature of the Golden Ball (Q – don’t World Cup footballers have two of them per capita??), the Oscars, and the Nobel. But, one must start somewhere. So here goes.
(Comments and suggestions on drawing up a set of parameters, rules and regs are welcome. The more contentious , the more welcome they are.)
The Pakagolla Award…
… goes to the youngest player in the World Cup with the brightest future in Hollywood or Bollywood. The winner, hands down, ladies and gentlemen!!! (roll of drums, orchestra breaks into “Also sprach Zarathustra”) IS… CRISTIANO RONALDO!!!!
He wins this award for his ability to crumple to the ground all of a heap whenever any opponent passes within two yards of his person. He has also invented the twisting fall whereby his body hits the ground straight while his head turns towards the referee before, during and after the moment of impact. This is a feat that I have not seen even Jackie Chan do. Cristiano Ronaldo promises a lot and is an early candidate for the Hall of Fame – I forgot to tell you that all winners of the Rossogolla Awards are candidates for the Rossogolla Hall of Fame that I propose to institute in about a decade.
The Vintage Rossogolla Award…
… goes to the World Cup equivalent of a 1961 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. And there is only one candidate. The official history of the Chateau estate has this to say about their wines: “The very fine 1955 year was evidence of the wine’s renewal, but the Bordeaux vineyard suffered terrible frosts in February of 1956 before producing a new cycle of exceptional vintages in 1959 and 1961.”
Just change the years, but don’t change the country and we have our winner. (A solo cornet playing “La Marseillaise”) ZINEDINE ZIDANE. Thank you Zizou for showing us that when even Brazil plays pragmatic football, you are not afraid to show us magic, sleights of hand, and vanishing tricks (now you see the ball, now you don’t). Thank you for bringing yourself and your team up from the pedestrian football of the group matches to the authoritative games against Spain, Portugal, and much of the time against Italy. We forgive you the headbutt and the red card – it just proves that after all you are not a god. Zizou, you are already in the Hall of Fame. I, at least, bow before you!
The Man of Clay Kanchagolla Award…
… goes to someone who had admittedly the best players of a generation with him, and managed to make them look as good as Mohun Bagan in the Kolkata rains. With players like Gerrard, Lampard, Joe Cole, Terry and Hargreaves, Sven Goran Eriksson achieved the unthinkable – he could have been an artiste who takes clay and fashions Durga idols; he took these proven match winners and converted them into mud.
A piece of advise to Sven Goran – stay with womanising; its simpler, there are many more opportunities, and since most of it is discreet, your failures don’t become public. Football is a spectator sport and you don’t deserve to be in the limelight. Anymore.
The PuppetMaster Award…
… goes to Carlos Alberto Parreira, who managed to make Ronaldinho look like a normal Sunday club player. The flamboyance had been curbed; the panache, the pizzazz were gone; and our favourite toothful one ended up playing deep down in midfield, anonymous most of the time, and played like a journeyman in a mid-table club.
That takes greatness in a coach – hence Parreira is another early candidate for my Rossogolla Hall of Fame.
The Fountain of Youth Award…
…goes to the French team. From a spavined bunch of no-hopers, this lot transformed themselves into almost world champs in a small matter of 7 matches. Was it their diet? Was it their Evian or Vichy waters? Was it some other, less mentionable, part of their daily consumption? Conspiracy theorists can have a field day on this matter. Whatever.
A small aside: Patrick Viera – could he perhaps send me an email about what is it that they took to make the transformation? I may consider taking up the distributorship for India.
The Nadugopal Award…
… goes to Sepp Blatter. The refs were under instructions re diving, appealing for cards and a whole bunch of other things. If they interpreted their instructions strictly, they got hammered. If they didn’t, they got hammered too. Why Blatter and the other fat men around him won’t look at technology to provide help to the refs, I have no idea. With video replays, Cristiano Ronaldo, most of the Portuguese, Robben, and quite a few of the Dutch and Italians would have been back home midway through the World Cup.
The Abar Khabo Award…
… goes collectively to the African teams. None of them made it beyond the group stage. But during their stay on the arena, were they fun to watch!! Their lack of knowledge, experience, and tactical sense were more than compensated by their joie de vivre, their physical presence, and their lack of respect for their better-known opponents.
All in all, one more World Cup, where one could say that one had seen better football (in 1982, 1986 and 1998), where one had seen worse (1990, 1994, 2002), where stars underperformed, etc. To me, in some ways, this World Cup has been unique:
- No new stars swam into sight, for us to gaze at with wonder
- No upsets which challenged the established order
- No one individual who stamped his authority on the World Cup like Pele in 1958, or Maradona in 1986
So, like all good football fans, I am not fully satisfied. The next one will surely be better. Surely, another Pele, another Maradona, another Cruyff will burst onto the field and our consciousness and remind us that God does exist.
(first posted on sulekha.com on Jul 12 2006)