Kolkata, June 14: As football frenzy gripped the globe with the FIFA World Cup kicking off in Russia, the politicos in Bengal on Thursday let their political battles take the backseat as they geared up to soak in the spirit of the beautiful game taking place on a distant green turf.
Some veteran politicians strongly backed their favourite teams while others nostalgically recalled the days of childhood when they were crazy about the World Cup.
"I am watching World Cup since 1990. I have also been to the ground a few times to watch the matches. I am a big fan of European football and of the European nations, the German team looks to be the most spirited," Bengal Panchayat minister and Trinamool Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee said.
"If Germany reaches the later stages in this World Cup, I will surely watch their matches even if they take place in the late hours," he added.
"I am carrying the World Cup schedule with me all the time. I have also ticked off the matches that I wish to watch," noted CPI-M MLA and Left Front legislature party leader Sujan Chakraborty.
"Earlier, I used to be a football fanatic, with East Bengal and Brazil being my favourites. Now I can be called a football fan at most as I do not get that much time watch the matches. I still support Brazil in world football," he added.
For BJP President Dilip Ghosh, another ardent Brazil supporter, the modern day power football seems less attractive.
"In our childhood, we used to stay up late to watch the matches involving Brazil in the World Cup. The style of play of Italy and Germany was eye catching," Ghosh said.
"I was personally a fan of Brazil's Romario and Bebeto. There was an artistic touch in their game. Nowadays, football is becoming too much power oriented," Ghosh added.
While most leaders across political parties chose either Brazil or Argentina as their personal favourite, some said the World Cup can turn out to be an ideal platform for the rise of a new champion.
"It is difficult to say who would come out victorious. Let the tournament roll on and we might be amazed to see that the world famous players are getting overshadowed by the rise of new footballing superstars," Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya pointed out.
"Such incidents have often happened in the grand stage of World Cup football," Bhattacharya added.
Talking about the probable best player in the World Cup this year, Bengal Sports Minister Arup Biswas chose Portugal's Christiano Ronaldo while his colleague and state consumer affairs minister Sadhan Pande voted for the Argentine legend Lionel Messi.
"My favourite player is Ronaldo as he has speed, skill, strength everything in him," Biswas said.
"Everyone is saying this is Messi's last World Cup. He has not won anything major for his country yet. My vote goes to Messi for this World Cup," Pande noted. IANS