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FIFA World Cup 2022: Giant cutouts of Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo set up in Kerala


Soccer fever has engulfed Kerala before the FIFA World Cup 2022 gets underway in Qatar later in November, mostly in celebration of South American countries dominating the sport. Huge cutouts of Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr., and Cristiano Ronaldo that have been placed alongside a picturesque river that runs through this north Kerala area have drawn attention from all over the world, fueling a surge in football craze in the southern state prior to the world cup.

A 40-foot-tall cutout of Neymar Jr. was created by Keralite Brazil fans along the river’s edge, adding spice to the rivalry between the two players’ fans. A 45-foot high cutout of Cristiano Ronaldo sporting a Portugal jersey overshadowed Messi and Neymar Jr. The fans have made use of his widely-shared photo of him preparing for a free kick at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Giant cutouts of Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo set up at Pullover Lake in Kerala

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Giant cutouts of Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo set up at Pullover Lake in Kerala

A group of Argentinian soccer club supporters in Pullavoor village created a 30-foot-tall cutout of Messi over a little islet in the river last week, drawing attention from around the world to Kerala, a state known for its love of football. This was done weeks before the Qatar World Cup.

Incidentally, FIFA tweeted a picture of the cutouts, saying world cup “fever has hit Kerala.”Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan thanked the world football body for “acknowledging our unmatched passion for the sport.” Kerala’s love for football is “on full display” with the World Cup around, he said in a tweet.

“These cutouts have been widely shared by the official fan pages of Argentina and Brazil,” E T Nibinraj, a resident from a nearby area, told PTI.

The cutout of Messi was posted on November 1 by the Argentina National Football Team, an unverified Facebook profile with more than 4.23 lakh Likes and followers. The viral photographs have been shared on a lot of fan pages, including one from Brazil.

Maradona and Pele are also beloved sports figures in Kerala. The literature on Latin American football and the history of Argentina were easily accessible to Keralites through books and newspapers, Sreenijan told PTI, while tracing the Malayali community’s love for soccer.

Critics of the cutout craze are also present. A lawyer who describes themselves as an activist complained to the Chathamangalam panchayat to have the constructions removed on the grounds that they might impair the river’s natural flow.

Both Koduvally Municipality and Chathamangalam Panchayat are bordered by this place. It is allegedly a portion of the municipal authorities’ jurisdiction. The cutouts would not be removed, according to the local body officials.

Kunnamangalam MLA P T A Rahim said the game of football unites people across countries and languages and they stand with the joy of football fans.

“There is no basis in the argument that the cutouts of Messi and Neymar installed in Pallavur (sic) should be removed. The place where the cutouts were installed is on the border of Chathamangalam GP (gram panchayat) and Koduvally municipality…part given by GoK for the drinking water system of NIT,” Rahim tweeted.

He said he visited the site and it was confirmed the cutouts installed in the area adjacent to the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Calicut’s check dam will not affect the natural flow of the river in any way.

Meanwhile, a tragic incident was reported from Kannur on November 5 when a 48-year-old man, a diehard fan of Brazil who was attempting to tie a poster up a tree, died after falling from it.

In 2021, when Argentina lifted the Copa America cup, the streets of Kerala were as charged as any Latin American street.

Then, ESPN Argentina posted footage of jubilant Argentina supporters in Kerala cycling through the streets. Over their two favourite teams, Brazil and Argentina, the enthusiastic legislators in Kerala are currently engaging in friendly cross-party banter.

The now customary social media fight of leaders started this time with State Education Minister, V Sivankutty cheering Brazil with a poster saying the football giant will lift this edition of the World cup.

(With PTI inputs)

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