It’s not been a good weekend for the purists. First the genius of James Rodriguez thugged out of the World Cup by a Brazil about as far removed from the jogo bonito of Socrates, Zico, Garrincha as it’s possible to get. Then the one mercurial talent in this decidedly non-vintage Brazilian side, Neymar, himself the victim of a brutal challenge, stretchered off and out of the tournament with a broken back.
And all this against a backdrop of the usual bullshit. The predictable pre-match concessions to ‘anti-racism’ played out before largely all white crowds, the poor and the black and the brown (often one and the same) either part of the service economy around the stadia, or not there at all, locked down in hillside favelas, beyond the clichés of sun, sea and, wait for it, Rio in Rio.
So in the interests of a belated rearguard, funnelling the fighting spirit of all the so-called minnows – Algeria, Costa Rica, Iran – who let’s face it have done more to light up this tournament than anyone, how about these two? Check out the link for a pair of true fanatics, all the more impressive in this age of the plastic. Real football lovers from football-mad Kolkata. The very antithesis of a corrupt, venal FIFA. A salutary reminder of what really matters when it’s a question of ‘the beautiful game’. Hard to argue with the old girl as well. Maradona still slightly edges it over Zidane.