We do not know how many people will die for football during and after the World Cup tournament that will end on 13 July. Records show the football world cup which has been dubbed 'the greatest show on earth' sometimes claims lives, not always. One or two Brazilians commit suicide if their team lose in the final. But that also is not very common now-a-days as Brazil has not been playing in the final for many years. Fans of other teams are more reasonable. They refuse to die. They know the value of life and put life above emotions.
Bangladesh does not play in the World Cup. In fact, it plays at the prequalifying rounds and gets eliminated usually at phase one. We have a tradition of losing, especially when it comes to football. There aren't many optimists who think Bangladesh would ever play at the World Cup finals in next few generations.
It is true that Bangladesh doesn't qualify to be among the 32 nations that play in the World Cup finals, but Bangladesh does participate in the World Cup every time it visits our global village. People take part by supporting Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Nigeria, France, England or Holland. They hoist flags of their favourite teams on top of their roofs, on the roads in front of their house, on tree tops and vehicles. Many wear jerseys of their teams and chant slogans insisting that their team would be the champion. This is great fun and everyone enjoys it. For one month, every four years, the whole world gets mad with football.
This year Bangladesh's participation has been outstanding. Our players did not go to the tournament, but our women have. No one knows which two countries will play the final on 13 July, but we know, for sure, that Bangladesh will be present in the field in half of the total number of games. How? Bangladesh has supplied jerseys to 16 of the 32 teams. So, half of the jerseys will represent Bangladesh at the World Cup. There is a strong likelihood that the two teams playing the final of the World Cup might be wearing jerseys made in Bangladesh. This is the bright side of the picture.
There is a sad side of the picture too. It includes the grief of the parents, siblings, friends and neighbours of Mohammad Nazim, Shihab Hossain and Mohammad Sajal. This also is a story of the World Cup.
Mohammad Nazim was 18. He died on June 1. Shihab Hossain was 12. He died on June 7. Mohammad Sajal was 22. He died on 8 June. They had many things in common. They were alive. They were young. They were football enthusiasts. They were supporters of Argentina. they died of electrocution while hoisting the flag of their favourite team.
Mohammad Nazim hailed from Bhola district. He lived in Dhaka City's Adabar area. His uncle Giasuddin told the media that Nazim was an enthusiastic fan of Argentine football team. He wondered on to a live electric wire while he was hanging Argentina's flag on a building. He was grievously injured by this and was rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where he died. His dream of watching the World Cup football and seeing Messi holding high the World Cup trophy also died with him.
Shihab Hossain was a sixth grade student of Shekhernagar Roy Bahadur Institute. The 12 year old boy was also a fan of Argentina. He was electrocuted in Gopalpur village of Sirajdikhan upazila of Munshiganj on June 7 night while hoisting Argentine flag to let the people of his village know that he was a supporter of Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Gonzalo Higuaín and Sergio Agüero. He died on the spot. His World Cup ended in the silent darkness of grave.
Mohammad Sajal, son of Abdul Jabbar too was killed while trying to hang the flag of Argentina at Jatrabari of Dhaka city. Sajal came in contact with an electric wire while trying to hoist Argentine flag with a rod. He was critically injured and died in Dhaka Medical College at June 8 noon.
How do we define these three youngsters? Fanatical football fans? Fixated young football aficionados? Irresponsible Argentine supporters? Perhaps not.
They are the martyrs of FIFA World Cup 2014. Bangladesh has provided jerseys to the World Cup and also at least three martyrs. So who says we not playing in the World Cup? We are bravery much in the thick of the thing. Our garments girls have stitched the shirts, shorts and socks. Our entire youth community has been giving full throated support to Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy and Spain, and three of our children have given their lives not just for nothing.
They will be there in every game. We should try to see them in the spectators, or, maybe, in the twenty two who would be fighting for possession of the ball on each of the twelve stadiums spread over Brazil. And we will see them on the wrapped on the World Cup trophy when it will be handed over to the captain of the champion team. We do not know if that team would be Argentina or not.
The writer is Joint Editor of the Daily Observer