One of the natural traits a ai???Kolkatanai??i?? inherits from his beloved City is an unbridled passion for football, which in its purest forms makes you forget space, time and everything. Be it the acrimonious rivalry of ai???Ghoti-Bangalai??i?? duel or playing in a muddy turf dotted with puddles of water, itai??i??s the passion for the beautiful game that stands apart.

But what irks and hurts at the same time is the city doesnai??i??t have proper means and media tools to channelize the passion. Football fans are awestruck with the copious amount of journalistic works devoted to football in European nations. Football that itself has found a new shape, identity and meaning amidst the burgeoning growth of new media. All readers could do is helplessly admire their works and yearn that someday the city might develop its own fan base with its own footy-culture. But, for a City, for a country blessed with ravenous football fans who wantAi?? to read and learn about football, wantAi?? to get permeated in a football culture deserves something more than just reading articles from other soccer portals. The need for soccer magazine, fanzines, podcasts in the ai???City of Joyai??i?? have never been craved before so badly.

Magazine triggers the imagination of a person that shapes in a way his opinion about the game. Of course, it can be refuted by the argument that television and internet are more powerful media that leaves greater impact in the cultural development of a society. Media shares a long standing relation with football with the aim of reaching the voice of masses. A football club is eponymous with its fans, as Tony Evans, of The Times wrote- ai???The culture of football is about more than players and managers ai??i?? in ten years, most of them will have moved on. It exists and grows through the supporters as much as the team.ai???

In bygone eras, fans had closer interactions with the club. In present day, the mode of interaction has changed. Internet or new media probably has now far greater appeal than any other media outlets. It provides a platform of Interactivity where voices of fans across the globe are heard through social networking channels. But, somewhere within this vortextuality, magazines have kept the niche readers intact. In UK, the cult of football magazine is still prevalent, be it in print or on-line versions.

There are few fundamentals which canai??i??t be avoided while talking about foreign landscape. The game which is driving us crazy back home in India is basically England-centric. Secondly, the entire nation is not divided by language barriers; as a result everyone can understand and enjoy the materials published. Third, it has passed the test of time. The famous comic series ai???Roy of The Roversai??? dates back to early 50ai??i??s. The fictional hero Roy Race and his achievements became so popular that any sporting achievements like an unexpected comeback or winning against the odds gets allude mention with the comic hero.Ai?? The heroics of Alan Shearer and the death of legendary England captain Bobby Moore had been mentioned in the media with reference to ai???Roy of the Roversai???.

Popular magazines like the Match, Back Pass, Soccerbilia, and Four Four Two have created their own identity amongst the audience. Everyone is unique in their own right. For instance, ai???Soccer Historyai??? is a popular magazine that deals particularly with the history of worldai??i??s greatest games. It is more of an academic journal that covers a ai???full chronological range from the 1880ai??i??s, when soccer was first codified, through the 1970ai??i??sai???.

However, there are various magazines that are dedicated to the fans of a particular football club. For example, Liverpool Football Club issues a weekly magazine called ai???LFCai??? that deals with A-Z information you need about the club. Fanzines play an important role here. The voice of the masses is properly channelized through them. Gareth Roberts, editor of Well Red Magazine feels that the magazine has helped the culture of reading. Thus, the cult of magazine-reading in England bears a different significance. A culture that is typical of the Englishmen and very hard to replicate.

Placed in the Indian context, however, we do not find a pan-Indian presence of magazines dedicated to sports. The popularity of the erstwhile ai???Sportsworldai??i?? and ai???Sportstarai??i?? is on the wane largely due to real-time and more in-depth analysis of numerous portals on the web. By and large; India is a single-sport country and in that space the cult of Cricinfo (now owned by ESPN and also the owner of the Wisden Cricketer) has left its web and print counterparts gasping for eyeballs. Recently, though, India has been buzzing with the ‘football boom’. ’90 minutes’ – based out of Kolkata – is one new and popular magazine that provides hope for an Indian football fan and fills the void left by cricket’s media dominance.

In other sports, the readership base which can appreciate and afford a magazine is too small. Locally though, vernacular newspapers still have some traction with their in-house magazine (eg. ai???Khelaai??i?? by Ajkal group that reports heavily on Indian football) being readAi??and referred to in street corner discussions by the arm-chair fan.

However, with the penetration of TV and the web, the upper/middle class Indian sports fan has access to top quality content and gradually the contribution of magazines and newspapers to the creation of a ai???sporting cultureai??i?? is taking a backseat. Content is still the king for the educated Indian sports fan, and it is but natural that with time that in terms of analytical content (the reason magazines exist) one has to live with this reality. The manifestation of that is already quite apparent, with the social networking sites agog with links and likes of popular articles on the web (analysis/humor/statistics of the sport). The talking points on the sport, the formation of opinions are also now shaped by either the TV or the web. Gone are the days when one would refer to a Brian Glanville column in the last fortnightai??i??s issue of Sportstar.

Due to more TV coverage today in India people are getting exposed to European football. However, it has yet to create a mass-hysteria. Only a minor section, that too more educated, group in society loves to watch and get involved more with the game. The cult of football magazine if to be introduced here first needs a proper structure in place. This is a herculean task but on an optimistic note like ‘Rome was not built in a day’, may be one day Kolkata, and India, will have an avalanche of football magazines in stores.

—–

You can follow the author @Saikat_SAnchor

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One Response to “Indian Football: Kolkata – Hoping That The ‘City Of Joy’ Embraces The Magazine Culture Someday”

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  1. A says:

    Being football fans isn’t enough. Eventually, we’ll have to develop a football culture within the country, for the sport, and our national team, to really stand up and be counted. And for that to happen, we need all kinds of media and publications to work hard and work together! Very good article.