Fans flock to curtailed show

People from all walks of life turned up in numbers to bask in the FIFA World Cup trophy display at the Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel yesterday. In spite of the nationwide blockade called by the 18-party opposition alliance, there was a constant flow of ticket-holders — mostly youngsters — at the hotel throughout the day. The festivities, though, were mostly limited to taking photographs with the coveted trophy enclosed within a glass cube as the other sideshows — a festive football match, musical performance, hologram show, etc. — had to be curtailed to a minimum due to the last-moment shift of venue from the originally scheduled Bangabandhu National Stadium to the hotel.
Among the spectators, Milon from Shantinogor caught the eye especially. Milon had come with a flag in hand and the national colours painted on his bare chest. The 30-something guy, who was recently spotted during a match of the Federation Cup, said he had long been going to cricket matches in that attire. “This is a special occasion and I love football as much as I do cricket. So I thought I should be part of this occasion too,” said Milon.
Ferdous, a businessman from Gulshan, who came with nine members of his extended family, said that the shift of venue suited him well as they might not have gone to the original venue of BNS as it would have been too far for them, considering the security issues. But conversely there were many — the exact number could not be confirmed by the authorities — who could not come due to the shift of venue.
Neeraj Garg, the vice-president of Coca Cola for India and South West Asia region, believes that despite the shift of venue, the turnout proved it a success. “People’s participation proves they are very much a part of this celebration and we are glad as corporate partners of FIFA to bring the cup here,” said Garg, who will travel with this cup to Bhutan, Nepal and India — the three other stopovers for this trophy in the South Asian region.
Most of the visitors that came yesterday were ordinary people who either love the game or were just there to be part of a historic event. But there were celebrities too, mostly from sports as some former footballers and other sports personalities came to spend a day of football fiesta.
The trophy will be on display again at the same venue from 9:00am to 3:00pm today where key stakeholders of Coca Cola will have access by invitation only. There will be a group of 20 from the Bangladesh team that recently took part in the Asia Pacific Games of Special Olympics in Newcastle, Australia allowed in while a group of children from Shishu Academy and Jaago Foundation will also have the chance to be part of the event. Organisers said they will try to hold a joint musical performance from bands Shunno, Nemesis and Rafa on the Bangla version of the 2014 FIFA World Cup theme song, if possible.