The love affair between football and Kolkata has spanned over a century. One of the most popular sports in the world, football is rooted in Kolkata’s history and culture. And Kolkatans don’t shy away from showing this affinity toward the sport whenever they get the chance.
As the FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifier is moving ahead, India drew with Bangladesh in the Group E FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifier second round match on October 15.
Although Bangladesh had put up a spirited show, the mood was one of victory as a house-full crowd of supporters cheered for India at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Salt Lake Stadium) in Kolkata.
A photo that was posted on Reddit shows “60 thousand fans turning up to support the Indian football team against Bangladesh” during yesterday’s match.
Or may be it could have been more than 60,000 as the stadium can hold up to 65,000 and it was all occupied. Another Reddit user went on to share his excitement to see a “jam-packed” bypass, that connects the city with the stadium, with Indian flags “flying high”. Hailing the passion of the city for football, as “a fan he loved it”. “I was on my way to a late meeting before the match, and EM Bypass that connects the stadium was jam packed with cars and bikes, with Indian flags all over, Flying high. Some of them wore cricket jerseys as well lol but the passion in my city for football is crazy and as a fan I love it. Imagine playing in a world class stadium with jam packed audience chanting football slogans and appreciating every forward pass you make, It feels like home.”
Others, even those had to wait for long in the traffic, didn’t seem to be upset but were rather excited to witness “nonetheless a crazy crowd”.
“The demand for tickets have been massive since the day India held Qatar to a goalless draw. Now we are struggling to meet demands and even our commitments,” an All India Football Federation (AIFF) source told IANS. Although it was a full-capacity crowd hogging to cheer for team India, few seemed to disappointed with the results of the match as it ended on a draw.
However, for most what mattered more than the win-lose situation was people’s enthusiasm towards football like that of cricket.