19 September, 2020

Gandhi In The FIFA?

Twenty20 World Cup, odd exploits of a Sania Mirza or even a hockey triumph... but the great Indian elephant of sport, like Kumbhakarna, goes on sleeping

Gandhi In The FIFA?
The most revealing insight into why India continues to be the world’s greatest underachiever in sport came in Durban in November. Gathered in the city’s vast exhibition hall were the great and good of world football, the most popular game in the world.

They had come for the draw of the 2010 World Cup. It was an important moment for South Africa and for world football. If you were a player on the world sporting stage, you had to be there. I scanned the hall and could not find a single Indian face. Then just before the draw for Asia, India’s name’s finally popped up, but in a footnote.

India, we were told, had already been eliminated by Lebanon, a much smaller country ravaged by wars. India’s name was not even going to go into the pot with the other Asian nations to decide which of them might win the right to be in South Africa. Let alone be at world sport’s biggest ball, India did not even have the right to buy a ticket for the ball.

What made India’s absence in Durban all the more poignant was that one Indian was...



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