Corporates Gear Up For Cup Time

Updated: May 26 2002, 05:30am hrs

Did you think football was all about 22 men kicking an inflated leather ball, and one man with a whistle in his mouth Read what these men from the world of business have to say about the World Cup, all set to begin this Saturday, and youll understand why we are going gaga over football these days.

M Damodaran
Chairman, Unit Trust of India

I am not going to Korea and Japan. I am looking forward to watching football on television. I will try and watch as many matches as I can on TV on Ten Sports. I have no favourite side. Actually, I have four sides in mind. There is Argentina, France (provided they recover from their tiredness), Spain (they are not much talked about though they have players like Morientes and Raul) and there is England, too. But a lot depends on Beckham and his injury.

To me, Brazil is the most exciting team. They always have a good side and always play good football. Even Spain and some countries from the Continent, for instance teams from Africa, will be enjoyable to watch. The Africans play the game naturally and that is interesting to watch. I dont have any specific favourite player. I like not just one or two players. I have many favourites. There is Beckham from England, Figo from Portugal and also Raul from Spain.

In the last World Cup, I found the game in which Croatia lost to the eventual winners, France, the most rivetting. This time around, I cannot narrow down the winners as yet. If France can play in the first round without injury, then they have a good chance. But their players have played too much football and are tired. Argentina certainly has a fairly strong possibility of winning.

Football is easily appealing to spectators. It is an inexpensive game with no external aids, except boots, unlike other sports, which require a racket, hockey stick or cricket bat. There is far more poetry and artistry involved here, which was ably found in players from the past like Maradona, Ferenc Puskas of Hungary and Gary Linekar of England. Hence its popularity.

Piyush Pandey
Group resident director & national creative director, Ogilvy & Mather

The World Cup matches clash with my World Cup of Advertising at Cannes, where advertising professionals kick each other around and I have been appointed referee. However, I will be watching the games on Ten Sports. Since I will be in Europe in June, whichever channel there telecasts it, I will catch them on it. Actually, in 1998, when the World Cup was going on, I was with my partner, Sonal Dabral. In whichever country we halted, be it Venice or Florence and later Spain, Italy and France lost those matches.

My favourite team is undoubtedly Brazil, for they always let me down! I have always supported the underdogs. I dont know which team qualifies for this title this year, but it will be clear after the first 10 days of the World Cup. In the previous two World Cups, it was Ecuador and Cameroon.

As for my favourite players, I like all the players from Argentina. Now that Ronaldo from Brazil is back, lets see what he is up to. Then there is Zinedine Zidane from France. Also Beckham from England. I am including his name just to be politically correct as he endorses Castrol and that happens to be our account.

I will still root for Brazil for their style of playing. With Ronaldo back, one cannot say much.

Anand S Gupta
CEO, South Asia, Best Western Hotels

I believe that South America is the home of soccer. Therefore, I prefer South American teams, especially Brazil. Unfortunately, being someone based in the US, where the major attraction is basketball, I follow that game more than soccer. I wouldnt like to comment on who will win or who will emerge as the star. Nevertheless, I will watch the World Cup from wherever I am. The arrangements for the World Cup in our properties will not be uniform. It will be independent and each property will plan according to their area of location, keeping in mind the kind of customer there.

Sunil Mathur
COO, Choice Hotels India

I love the game and Im keen to watch it on television. To be honest, I still dont know which channel to watch the telecast on. I only hope that the matter between Ten Sports and Indian TV channels relating to live telecast of the matches will be resolved soon and we will get to see the matches live.

However, Ill watch them at home. There should be a division between office and entertainment. At home, I have a 25-inch BPL colour TV with an excellent sound system. I would love to see the matches live on that large screen. I believe it is always better to watch the matches on TV sitting at home and with your family, rather than going to the stadia, because on TV, you can closely follow every movement of the players and the ball. However, you need to have a good sound system in your TV so that you can distinctly hear spectators shout in the stadiumit is a different experience altogether! I am not making any special arrangements for employees to watch the matches at officeit will spoil their work.

Sudershan Banerjee
CEO, Hutchison Essar

Ill definitely watch the World Cup football matches. No, Im not going to either Japan or Korea to see the matches, but I wish I could go there! I prefer watching it at home on a large screen home theatre system. I will watch the matches on Ten Sports channel, I get it at home. The company, as of now, has no plans to provide extra arrangements for employees to watch the matches at office.

As told to Sulekha Nair, Rajkumar Leishemba and Srikumar Bondyopadhyay