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11 June 2006

FIFA fo fum

2006 FIFA World Cup. Source: FIFAWorldCup.Yahoo.comAND SO the world's most euphoric sports event has kicked off, and millions around the world are once again unified with the common language of cheering wildly. Here in Mumbai, retailers are latching on the 2006 FIFA World Cup fever with colorful branding and themed merchandise. At HyperCity, the cheering takes on the form of a splendid display created by visual merchandiser Darshita Thaker: six life-sized cutouts of football players stand at the store entrance dressed in actual gear.

I told Anand Ray, a colleague at HyperCity, that I was rooting for the underdog Croatia. I have no national team to cheer on. Like India, the Philippines is not playing in the World Cup; however, unlike Indians, Filipinos do not turn ecstatic over the game.

Football is simply not popular in the Philippines, despite the national football team being the oldest in Asia. The national sport is basketball: give the Filipinos one match, and you get the most boisterous moments of your life. Football is played mostly in high schools and universities as part of physical education courses. The game is also popular in the central islands of the Philippines, where Spanish influence remains strong.

Give the Filipinos one basketball match,
and you get
the most boisterous
moments
of your life
So what can I do when the whole world is gaga and I have no national team to go gaga over? For one, I can vouch for hometown Germany; my sister lives there, and everyone else is cheering for them. Or I can vouch for Spain, old motherland of the Philippines; they deserve to be in winning form like the rest of the Latin world. Or I can just wear the flag of Croatia. Wait, are they actually playing?

Oh well, I guess I can always simply cheer on Darshita's life-sized cutouts in front of HyperCity. I think one of them looks like a Filipino version of Ronaldinho . . .

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