Shamsher Chandel, Opinion@The HushPost: In the times of football, one forgets life, heads to the stadium or television set as if on duty. Almost like John Obi Mikel, the Nigerian captain, whose father was kidnapped but he played and no one knew what had happened back home or as if one is drugged and euphoria will follow as goals are scored.
Football stadia are a dangerous place. They are a place where you breathe to cheer. And your opponent out-breathes you. Croatia versus Russia reminded one of that electricity. Watching the black and red jerseys take on each other was like the old black and red wires neutral and live needed to generate electricity. Despite the shared Slavic-Russian backgrounds (now blurred) watching or playing the match was like swallowing mercury.
Croatia won. And the line-up to the semis now is Belgium, France, England and Croatia. The big universe of football will now zoom in on these three countries with shared borders and histories. A few borders away is Croatia. It is as unlikely line-up as in cricket would be Zimbabwe, West Indies, Bangladesh and New Zealand (not geographically speaking). But it sure is a sign of how the game has progressed. It shows the best, it hides the best. The team ranked first couldn’t go past Round two and the team ranked 70th – Russia — pulled it off up to the quarters. It tells on how competitive soccer is. That Brazil, Germany, Argentina were done and dusted endorses that you can’t predict football like you can’t life.
It can be a dream of the less-privileged and poor, of the likes of Kylian Mbappes, who was born in a poor suburb of Paris called Bondy, the kind whom one might shoo away on the streets of Rio, Paris or Delhi. Only to realise later that the child you shooed away is the most valued Frenchman more valuable than the French President, who could send stock markets into a tizzy, and can be the reason for a riot. Football shows the best, it hides the best. It still hides the winner, the last euphoria at Sochi, the culmination of this football clock.