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Cup fever subsiding, concerns for Indian soccer soar

Written by: Staff

Kolkata, July 7 (UNI) Last Sunday Bengal bid a tearful farewell to their favourite team Brazil from the World Cup, and with the final approaching this Sunday voices of discord rise from certain sections of the city disgruntled with the state of soccer in the country.

One such tune was heard from an amateur theatre group 'Ashoknagar Nattyamukh'.

On July 9, when the world will witness the final of the planet's biggest soccer extravaganza, the group will be staging 'Operation 2010', a play stating the sorry state of affairs of Indian soccer.

Talking to UNI, group director Avi Chakroborty said, ''We love football and from there rises our concern. We just dont know where the game is heading to in this country. The play is to bring it in the perspective.'' Written by Bratta Basu, the play deals with a meeting attended by politicians, aspiring coaches, marketing farms, liquor companies, former administrators and sports journalists talking about how will India stage and play World Cup in 2010.

''The fact is the ones who attend the meeting dont know anything about soccer and the ones who know, the players, are left out of the meeting,'' he said.

''In fact the parent body is so busy otherwise that they hand over the responsibility of holding the meeting to a private agency, Krirad, who have no knowledge in soccer. The play culminates with a series of questions, that are always treated as unimportant, by an ''agantuk'' (a sudden intruder),'' Avi added.

The play ends with a discordant mechanical sound choking the questions, as the attendants of the meeting emerge as larger than life.

''This is nothing but an effort to make the people aware of the state of soccer in the country. Its to push them out of their snugness,'' he said.

Though some of the hotels will telecast the match live, the charm of soccer is out of the city with the two Latin American giants Brazil and Argentina out of contention.

''There is no charm left. We are supporting France, but that is too casual,'' Laltu, a soccer buff from Baguiati, in the Eastern fringes of the city, says.

On being asked when can India play World Cup, pat comes the reply, ''Was that a joke? At this rate...never.'' Another Sandip Malakar adds, ''We love football. But we are really sad that soccer in this country does not improve. It is languishing.'' The general mood of despondency was evident in the voice of Neelanjan Dutta, who said, ''How many mothers will send their sons to go and play soccer. They wont because they know there is no future.

How many second generation footballers do we have in this country?'' ''There are not many because the players have themselves borne the brunt and dont want their children to face the same,'' he quipped.

''World Cup is all very good. But soccer needs to improve in this country. We have reduced ourselves to a nation of soccer lovers, who cant produce a bunch of players to represent us at the biggest stage.'' UNI BA SP PM KN1340

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