Thiruvananthapuram/Pathanamthitta/Kasaragod (Kerala): Houses in Argentine colours, huge cutouts of Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr. and Cristiano Ronaldo and fans, donning jerseys of their favourite teams, are on display in various parts of Kerala, which is in the grip of a football frenzy as the 2022 World Cup commences on Sunday in Qatar.
As Keralite fans of Argentina, Brazil and Portugal are geared up to follow their favourite teams and players, political leaders in the southern state also joined the fanfare with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wishing best of luck to all teams and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan playing a match with his party colleagues.
Vijayan, in a social media post wishing best of luck to the participating teams, said that the World Cup in Qatar is exciting for Keralites as a lot of Malayali expatriates live there and were also part of the preparations for the global mega sporting event.
Satheesan too took to social media to post photographs of the football match, organised by his party, where he and his colleagues played donning colours of Brazil and Argentina.
Image Courtesy: Twitter/V D Satheesan
Meanwhile, a Kerala-based business man — Boby Chemmanur — is getting ready to travel to Qatar on Monday with a golden statue of Maradona which commemorates his ‘Hand of God’ goal.
The businessman, also known as Boche, said in a release that along with the statue he would also be carrying Maradona’s message of ‘Football addiction against drug addiction’.
Chemmanur and a group of people will together begin their journey on Monday from Thiruvananthapuram and will travel through Kerala, Karnataka and Goa to reach Mumbai from where they will fly to Qatar.
Maradona’s statue will be displayed in front of a major stadium in Qatar and then will be handed over to a prominent museum there, the release said.
In Mallapuzhassery village of Pathanamthitta district, fans not only donned their favourite teams’ jerseys, they also put up streamers in the colours of Argentina and Brazil and several even painted their houses in the Argentine colour of blue and white.
Image Credit: ANI
Fans of both South American teams passionately claimed that their team would take home the World Cup this year.
In Kozhikode, fans of Argentina and Brazil gathered this morning at the bridge over the river in Pullavoor village where huge cutouts of Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar Jr have been erected in an islet.
Image Credit: ANI
The cutouts had garnered global attention recently with global football body FIFA tweeting a picture of the same and saying that World Cup “fever has hit Kerala”.
The same was highlighted by Vijayan in his social media post.
Football lovers from Pullavoor village said that they have put up a 15 feet wide and 10 feet tall screen and made other arrangements for at least a thousand people to watch the matches.
In Kasaragod, fans not only installed huge cutouts of Messi and Ronaldo but also of Qatar ruler — Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani — with fans of both Argentina and Portugal gathered underneath them, donning jerseys of their favourite teams.
In Eachur village of Kannur district, fans of Brazil and Argentina also organised a goal scoring event by setting up a scaled down version of goalposts. However, neither side managed to score a single goal, according to the visuals.
Similar scenes of excitement and celebrations, including setting up huge screens to watch the various matches and holding goal scoring events, were witnessed from other parts of the state, which is known for its love for the sport.