The very media in India that gives cricket a lot of coverage, often cries foul about how much coverage cricket gets in the media. As someone who moved here right after India’s World Cup victory last year, I was on the side of the media that moans about there being too much cricket. However, having watched the build up to the UEFA Euro 2012 in Amsterdam for the last month or so, I can safely say that cricket in India has long way to go. As the championship drew near, the ads - both on TV and outdoors, started taking a distinctly football themed view of products. Some went to preposterous lengths to invent association with the game - like this football themed McDonald burger:

(EK = Europese Kampioenschappen - the Dutch for European Championship, never fails to remind me of Ek chidiya)

The streets started getting a football-themed makeover as well. Orange, the colour of the Dutch national team, dominates.

Pubs and coffeeshops all over the city show the games live (and make sure that you know about it from a mile away).

The preparations reached a fever pitch a few hours before the Netherlands’ first game today. The streets looked festive and the souvenir shops were selling t-shirts, hats, umbrellas and anything that they could dye the colour orange. It was a bit like the Queen’s Day all over again.

Sadly, the Dutch team lost to Denmark. I maintain a blissful ignorance about football, but even I felt compelled to tune in for the last 15 minutes of the game. I realised that I still don’t get game. With the advent of T20 cricket, every single minute of cricket is of some consequence whereas in a game of football the moments that really matter are very rare. And it’s such a simple game to score and follow - theres no runs, overs, boundaries, wickets and God forbid, Duckworth Lewis method for deciding games truncated by rain. It’s a game that a beer addled brain can follow in the company of drunk and progressively louder friends. May be that’s the whole point of it.

P.S. A few days before the start of Euro 2012, Alber Heijn (our local supermarket chain), started giving football trump cards (or rather Panini voetbalplaatjes) for every 10 € spent with them. I took them as a token of my time in Amsterdam, placed them in a book and forgot about them. When I pulled them out today, I realised that old Penguin Books look exactly like a book that an ad agency would conceive around this time here:

June 9, 2012