As I entered City Square, where a mini city of sorts, complete with food stalls, cafés and mini boutiques, is thriving with feverish activity. Thousands of football-crazy fans have flocked to the humongous screen which was due to broadcast the epic World Cup clash between Brazil and Spain in the pinnacle of arguably the world’s biggest spectacle of sport. However the occasion was not all about “The Beautiful Game”. People of all ages, ones in strollers, ones in wheelchairs, those who had never seen a game of football have gathered here at the heart of the city to witness this festival of life.
Soon I find myself a convenient spot in one of the nearby Starbucks cafés and settle down for a hot cup of the best coffee around. Taking a look around, I see groups of passionate teenagers chatting away about their dream players as well as middle and old-age people embracing the World Cup fever. I see that a giant “Fan zone” has been constructed through which over two million people have passed, over the last month and a half. TV screens are showing the live match, and fans are singing their national team songs.
Outside, the match is just beginning and the heat is on. The frenzy seems to have died down, and the fans watch in tense silence as the players take to the field. Within minutes, the match comes to life. The fans roar as the ball whizzes into the net, and a sea of red flags engulfs the surroundings. The Spaniards celebrate their opener, and they certainly seem to be winning the fan battle hands down.
I notice that a middle-aged man seated next to me is clearly in the thick of the action. He suddenly looks at me and smiles. I stare back, not knowing what to say. He says to me, “Amazing atmosphere, isn’t it? This World Cup has rekindled my passion for life.” The World Cup unites people of all linguistic groups, nations, castes and ages. So come, enjoy the beautiful game!