Over the last few days, billions of words have been spoken on the Internet, televisions, and newspapers to describe the tragedy of Lionel Messi, who had missed a penalty against Chile in the Copa America finals, at what was virtually the “championship point” in tennis parlance. However, sadly, very sadly, in comparison, there was hardly and praise for the quiet, stupendous efforts of Chile in winning two Copas in a row, both times as underdogs.
If you google for “Copa America champions” you’ll see that the tournament has been dominated by the three giants of Latin American football, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. Very few other teams have won the championship ever, and no one else consecutively. And Chile had never won it before 2015. Therefore, the second championship for them – that too in the centenary year of the Copa – is real good news not only for South American football, but for world football too. Chile has established themselves as the new powerhouse of international soccer. Let’s bow to the new champions. (What a dream match it will be if there be a stand-off between Chile and the European champions in 2016!)
Yet, our focus is on a goal that Lionel Messi didn't score!
Lionel Messi is undoubtedly one of the greatest sportsmen that have ever walked onto a football pitch. His trophy cabinet is overfull and he is superb both on and off the field, almost never getting involved in a controversy of his own making. A lot of experts agree that he is one of the best three footballers ever. And for such a wonderful player, there is nothing wrong if he misses a penalty. It just shows that he too is human, and not the hybrid of superman and batman created by news peddlers for their commercial interests. A Bangla paper I read loves to refer to him as "footballer rajputro" (Prince of Football)
It’s fine that we salute princes, supermen, and gladiators, it’s fine that the world is still fascinated with fairy tales, but can we be a little more even-headed, can we be fairer to the unheralded people who just work hard and produce results?
It has been long recognized that there is something seriously wrong with the history as most of us know it. The history that we’ve read in schools is the history of kings, queens, and victors. You can rarely feel the heartbeat of the common people or the tears of the vanquished in conventional history books. And it seems to have gone into our head as well.
I believe in our time, we are far more bothered with icons and heroes than we need to. And we love to ignore the common man that sweats blood, away from the glare of TV cameras. Don't we unconsciously love to live in the ethereal world of the royalty and its stupid regalia, which has been turned into the hoopla around superstars and manufactured supermen, the world of Sharukh Khans and Leonardo DiCaprios?
Are we really crying for Leonel Messi? Or are we shocked because we've just had another reality check that there are no supermen? And there is no fairy-tale in real life either?
Bengaluru / Tuesday, June 28, 2016