The greatest show on earth

IT’S no secret that Manipur have some of the most passionate football fans in the world. Though football and Manipur have been somewhat synonymous for the past many years, the craze for the beautiful game gets feverish pitch after every four years due to the Fifa World Cups. Unlike other parts of country, especially in states where the game is popular, where public places such as pubs are transformed into mini stadia for the fans to showcase their rivalry over team choices, it is common for Manipuris to watch the World Cup matches compactly and comment as if they are the best analysts of the game and the teams in action. Despite the fact that the national team has never qualified for the World Cup and is unlikely to ever be a part, unless it hosts the World Cup; which ironically is not foreseeable for few more decades, it is a reality that the World Cup fever takes over cricket-crazy India for at-least a month. Participation in the World Cup will remain as a pipedream because Indians themselves are nowhere close to being at the big stage at this point. However, such a reality has not come in the way of fans’ eagerness for the event which will end with the final showdown between France and Croatia on July 15. Notwithstanding the early exit of top teams and eternal favourites like Brazil, Argentina and Germany, the Russian edition of the quadrennial event undoubtedly generated keen interest among the fans here as they were equally eager to see the underdogs lift the coveted trophy.

From the business point of view, television manufacturers in particular, the month-long World Cup has been a boom-time as major electronic companies are learnt to have recorded a spike in sales, with soccer fans buying new sets or upgrading to large screens to have a better feel of live matches. To attract soccer fans, TV makers launched new large screen size models in the market and also came out with attractive financing schemes. As part of their marketing strategies, companies invested into 360 degree football season campaign in the run-up to the event, which included TV commercial, print ad and digital platforms and enhancing shop-front display, conducive to the football sentiment. New agencies reported that there were impressive sales growth in Kerala, Goa, West Bengal and other metro markets like Delhi-NCR, Bangalore and Mumbai whereas in certain low-profile markets, sales doubled compared to the past years. Unlike previous FIFA cup matches, when the euphoria was limited only to select states and metros, this season TV makers are learnt to have got better traction from across the country. Sensing the sales potential, some of the companies launched superlatively high-definition and large-screen TVs aimed at enhancing customers’ game watching experience to a whole new level along with organising special promotional campaign centring on offering a host of attractive offers for consumers. There are also stories about cessation of hostilities between hostile countries and rate of crime dipping during the month-long event. However, in Manipur the ‘greatest show on earth’ couldn’t make much of an impact in reducing distressful situation as it is evident from state remaining in the grip of various controversial issues.

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