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World Cup ignites high passion among BD fans

June 14, 2018 00:00:00

The World Cup is arousing high passion in Bangladesh, where machete-wielding fans of Brazil and Argentina have clashed on the streets. Flags of the two countries are almost everywhere, reports AFP.

The national team -- which is ranked 194th out of 211 teams - is absent, but World Cup fever has taken a firm hold among country's football lovers.

Rival followers of Lionel Messi and Neymar fought with machetes last week in the town of Bandar, leaving a man and his son critically injured, police said.

Meanwhile, a 12-year-old boy died after being electrocuted while putting a Brazil flag on a roadside pole.

Argentina and Brazil flags have been dominating towns in the country of 160 million for weeks ahead of the start of the World Cup in Russia today (Thursday).

Supporters of the two teams hold flag processions to show their loyalties. In the town of Madarganj, motorcycle rallies were staged by rival supporters waving banners.

A section of people want to end the fervour. One lawyer tried to get a court order preventing the flying of flags of World Cup nations.

Barishal University has banned its 7,000 students from flying foreign nations' colours on campus.

The country's fans switch allegiance every four years from cricket to football.

The Brazil-Argentina rivalry has been traced to broadcasts of the 1986 World Cup, when Diego Maradona's brilliance helped Argentina win the trophy.

M.M. Kaiser, editor of a sports portal, said, "Pele was a household name here. His story was in our textbooks. So there was a traditional support base for Brazil."

"But Argentina stole Bangladeshis' hearts after Maradona's solo feats in 1986. I think it is when this rivalry began ," he added.

Maqsud Elahi, 13, said after purchasing a flag of Argentina: "I support Argentina because of Messi. His dribbling is mind-blowing."

Tanvir Haider, a 29-year-old doctor, however, fell for Brazil after watching Ronaldo in his boyhood.

Bangladesh has never qualified for the World Cup, and has little chance of doing so in future.

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