FIFA U17 World Cup final: Mohun Bagan, East Bengal fans out to prove a point to FIFA, AIFF chiefs
A motley crew of spectators with multiple agenda in today's finale
We are on the cusp of last two shows on the final day of this 22 days showpiece event. Yesterday, Gianni Infantino had expressed his desire to see the highest stadium attendance in this edition of the age category of the world cup. As of now we are 2400 heads short of the 12, 30,976 attendance record set by China in 1985. Infantino had also said that we are also on course to overtake the Colombia 2011 U20 World Cup attendance of 13,09,880. And for that, we need to cross an attendance of 85,854 in two last two games left – the third-place play-offs and of course the finale.
With the available seating, pegged at 66,687 in the refurbished Salt Lake Stadium, and the attendance that we have seen so far even at the group-stages, we would easily create a new record. But then in order to do so, the crowd has to come through in for one last hurrah – make it two – with Brazil playing, even though not in the finale, the city sentiment would suck them into a visit.
And if the picture that we were privy to when the gates opened a shade past 3 pm – Infantino would have his reasons to sport the widest of all smiles. But then he would have a furrow or two above his brows.
Among the spectators that had thronged in, we saw quite a good few to walk in with Mohun Bagan and East Bengal flags, jerseys, bandana and or insignia. All of them had the same thing to say – rather fume about if the emotion was to be quantified correctly.
They had a two-pronged approach really – they wanted to protest in front of Praful Patel, the AIFF honcho to let him know in no uncertain terms that you may do a certain league called the Indian Super League but if you really want the Indian portion to be truly reflected then you cannot do away with the two most prestigious club had national – nay international - repute when the participating so-called clubs of the ISL weren't even an embryo.
The other of course was to showcase and up-hold these two clubs to the whole world as they are fully aware that this being a world cup finale – be it at the U17 level, sizable eyes throughout the five continents will be peeled to it.
Apart from that as can be expected despite Brazil not featured in the finals but by the dint of getting the advantage of watching two matches back to back for the price of one, we have quite a big Brazil contingent in the stands as well.
A general consensus points at 3-0 or 3-1 scoreline. The one goal for Mali slipped in because “Mali played really well in the 2nd semi, but Brazil will dominate,” said one fan from Barasat. He was wearing a Brazil bandana and a Barcelona jersey – a sight also very common among the spectators who flooded in. It seemed that Spain is going to steal the match – at least in support. “Of course we have come to see tiki-taka,” said a Barcelona fan from Behala for whom Spain is an automatic choice given his Barca allegiances.
Surprisingly Spain might have garnered support against England because “England had ruled us for 200 years, I cannot think of supporting them,” a logic proffered by another fan who had come all the way from Begampur, Hoogly. Then he explained his clutching in Indian flag as well. “India will always be No.1 for me – we are hosting a world cup tournament for rye first time – I want to show my country’s flag to the world,” he emphasised with a stern eye and a toothy smile.