Ranked at 192 by Fifa, by no means Bangladesh is considered as a 'great' or historical football nation. Those people in the modern world who are connected with football on a day by day basis, barely even know that a country called Bangladesh exists in the map of football. Bangladesh never qualified for the final stage of the World Cup qualification let alone playing in one. No one can dare to say that there is a chance in the near future for Bangladesh to play in the World Cup finals.
Although Bangladesh is unable to compete in the grandest stage of world football, the hype of the tournament is extraordinarily huge. No one would believe that we do not participate in the World Cup when they would see the hype of the tournament here. From the capital city of Dhaka to the port city of Chittagong, from Teknaf to Tetulia, from the megacities to the most remote areas, from the 5-star hotels to the village tea stalls, wherever you go, you would see such excitement covering the whole country at large. The flags of other nations fly so high that anyone would misinterpret Bangladesh as Argentina or Brazil or Germany or France or Spain etc. Some crazy people even paint their houses with the colors of their favorite team's flag.
People arrange watch along with friends and families. The person who never watches football or knows anything about it also gets affected by the football storm. The magic of the Fifa World Cup is so enormous that even being unable to participate does not matter much to the fans who support different nations. We spoke to some random people from several regions of the country and asked them why they support other nations in the World Cup while being kept away from cheering for their own country. And we got some amazing insights into the question.
Rasseduzzaman Rony, 46, a social worker from Bogura shared his story on how he became a supporter of a particular nation, Argentina. His story is an interesting one, "It was 1986 when we got to watch the World Cup for the first time on TV. There was only one TV in the whole village, and that was in our house. So people from different villages came in a group to watch the matches. As the TV was black and white, we could not differentiate the colors of the kits, we could only see the black and white color among the shades. So, people decided to support either the white team or the black team and they sat on separate sides in order to strengthen their support for a particular team''. But his love for Argentina grew when Diego Maradona let the world know his magic, "Maradona was the pinnacle for us, the Argentina fans, people who watched their first World Cup in 1986 like me, had to become the fan of Argentina only because of this one man, the legend and the greatest player that our generation has ever seen, Diego Maradona. He drove us crazy, I have never seen such a beautiful footballer in my lifetime that the one Maradona was, he single-handedly won that World Cup for Argentina".
Istiaque, 26, a student of Rajshahi University shares his insight on becoming a diehard fan of Brazil, "I got the opportunity to watch my first ever Fifa World Cup in 2002 when Brazil was crowned as champions after beating Germany in the final. Ronaldo Nazario scored both goals and I forever fell in love with him and Brazil. Along with Ronaldo, that Brazil team had Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Kaka and whom not! That Brazil team was so special and for me, the greatest ever national team of all time".
Just like these men, most of the people who support any team in the World Cup, fell in love with them after watching some mesmerizing stuff from some particular players from that team, such as Maradona of Argentina in 1986, Zidane of France in 1998, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho of Brazil in 2002, Andrea Pirlo of Italy in 2006 or Andres Iniesta of Spain in 2010.
Even in the most remote areas, the World Cup fever seems to cut through the minds of working-class people. These people barely watch club football which is next to not watching it at all but when it comes to the World Cup, it would feel like they are the best experts and pundits in analyzing the teams or the players.
Nurul Hasan, a tea seller of a village in Netrokona shared with us his relationship with football and the World Cup in particular, "As all the other tea sellers like me have to sell tea to earn our bread and butter, it is almost impossible to follow club football after working from 6 AM to 12 PM continuously every day. In addition, we do not have that much technical knowledge to get along with all this glamorous stuff. So our only way to follow and enjoy this beautiful game is when the World Cup starts every 4 years. A lot of people come to my stall, have tea, and talk about the teams and the players they support for hours, sometimes I take part in the conversations as well. We might not understand the game that much but I believe, our emotional attachment is no less than the people who are connected to this game more regularly". Well, the 12 feet long flag of Argentina in front of his stall does support his statement totally.
Just like them, a large part of the population of this tiny country drown themselves in the ocean of excitement attached to a Fifa World Cup. Whether a person is a businessman or a rickshaw puller, a student or a shopkeeper, a politician or a fish catcher or a farmer, emotion knows no boundaries while they support their favorite team or players. The Fifa World Cup always brings people of different classes of contrasting society under one belt, even though our very own motherland, Bangladesh has no hope to qualify for one in the near future. This is the magic of the World Cup, this is the universal enchantment of football.