Which Team to Support? : A Noob’s Guide

The world’s most widely watched sporting event kicked off this afternoon. Controversies, protests, and satire notwithstanding, it can be difficult to appear uninterested (and disinterested) when everyone around you has been bitten by the football bug.

It amuses me when many of my friends appropriate a team for themselves – warning signs include sporting team colors during a match, cursing the referee for ‘unfair’ decisions, and liberal use of first person pronouns (eg. We won; We got an unfair decision). To be fair to them, supporting a country, in my opinion, is more rational than being passionate about two clubs in England or Spain for the better part of four years.

Now, it can be awkward when you’re with a group of people who are dissecting matches and placing punts on teams’ progress. If you’re like me, indifferent to the World Cup, but have friends and family around you hooked to the event, this might help.

Disclaimer : The rules are not mentioned in any particular order. Following them is fraught with risk. Read the document carefully before making a decision.



  1. Rather than looking at the tournament as a whole, it makes sense to ‘strategize’ on a game-to-game basis.
  2. Do not judge a team by how skillfully they play. Leave that to the regulars. Instead, your rubric could include post-goal celebrations, color of jersey (Brazil sports the same color as Chennai Super Kings) or who won the toss. (Yes, the concept of a coin toss prior to the game is not limited to cricket!)
  3. If the team is from Africa (or Asia), support them.
  4. Always cheer the underdog. (For instance, if the country is a major cricket playing nation, odds are, they will suck at football.)
  5. If you’re from Kolkata, Argentina hold the aces that could save you some tax money. (Reference)
  6. If you have friends and family rooting for a particular team, align with the other team. It will provide meat to pre- and post-game analyses.
  7. Supporting England can be seen as suffering from a colonial hangover.
  8. If this doesn’t work, you can tune into Wimbledon for two weeks, starting June 23, and the India-Bangladesh ODI series before that.
  9. A caveat: following these rules might not be appreciated in sports bars/ hostel TV rooms/ other places where passions run high.

Here’s to rubbing a lot of people the wrong way, and may the least favored team win!


  • Harish Alagappa, for beating me to the post in coming up with a rulebook. In particular, points 3 and 4 are his.
  • Friends and family, for letting me know which teams they’re supporting. They have made my job slightly easier.