People support teams for different reasons. Some inherit their older siblings' preferences, some get influenced by friends while others can't remember why they love the team they love in the first place. But regardless of the reasons involved, sports teams can form an integral part of your outlook on life. Just notice the drastic changes in personality your Liverpool-supporting friend has had over the past year.
You can't help raise an eyebrow when you find out that one of your peers is supporting the USA or Japan. These are decent teams, of course, but not tournament favourites. So why do some people support them?
Audrika is a fan of the Japanese national team. Her reasons aren't very conventional. “I was never really into sports but you know how the World Cup gets everyone excited. My brothers were talking about teams and being an anime fan, I just tried watching a Japan game. That was in 2010. I've supported them ever since.” Audrika isn't alone. If you were to take a look around the various online anime communities of Bangladesh, you'll see that the Japanese have a fair bit of support here in Bangladesh.
Deepro and a bunch of his friends from Sylhet have created a community called 'The 3rd World in the World Cup'. They support all '3rd world' nations playing in the event. In their words, every 3rd world nation that manages to rub shoulders with and compete with economic powerhouses is an inspiration for Bangladesh. “Countries like Ghana or Algeria hardly have the investment and infrastructure that nations like England or Italy have but they compete and fight. As citizens of a 3rd world country ourselves, we can only look up to them.” The group supports every African nation as well as countries like Honduras and Ecuador. Pranto, one of the members of the group, also firmly believes Bangladesh would be much more successful than England if we had the same level of investment and infrastructure that the English FA has.
Hameen, a Shane Warne fanatic, supports Australia out of loyalty to his cricket hero. “I am sure Warney would be upset if I supported anyone else,” Hameen said. He also dislikes the English football team for the same reason. Adib is another Australia fan and his reasons for supporting the Socceroos are strange but pretty cool nonetheless: “AC/DC”.
There are a number of different reasons why people support the other teams. To lifetime Russia fan Mahbub Tarik, Russia still symbolises a world not so aligned in one particular direction. Other reasons are less sophisticated e.g. Mohua supporting Belgium because Eden Hazard is “irresistible” or Zaef supporting Netherlands because orange is his favourite colour. And then there's Jahan, who supports Greece because they made Cristiano Ronaldo cry back in 2004 and he doesn't really like CR7.
Regardless of why people support who they do, they will have their hearts in their mouths for the next few weeks. Some will have broken hearts and some will get bragging rights. For what it's worth, here's to the game that can make a boy from Dhaka refer to Manchester United as “us” even though he's never set foot in England.