A large picture of Argentina's captain Lionel Messi is displayed on a building in Doha
FIFA 22 | Official Gameplay Trailer Photo by Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has already started, and one can see football fever gripping India's Kerala.

Several cutouts and posters of football stars Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo have been installed in Kottayam, Kerala, reported DNA. Shops are also flooded with flags, and jerseys of Brazil, Argentina, England and Portugal. In the World Cup history, Brazil has been the most successful team as they won five titles.

The massive cutouts of the football stars are erected on the Cherupuzha river at Pullavoor. K.P. Asaj, who was at the site with his wife and two children, said that it’s even better than he had expected. He shared that he is now on leave from his work in Abu Dhabi. He shared that he is a football fan, so when he came to know about the cutouts, he wanted to see them, reported Sportstar. While he drove from the nearby town of Kunnamangalam, there were other visitors from distant places, including Lakshadweep island.

K.P. Akbar, who is part of the football fans who were behind the cutouts, said that since the 2002 FIFA World Cup, they have been expressing their passion for "football in different ways. The last time we had a put up the Argentine flag across the river." He added that they never thought that they would attract "so much attention when we decided to make the cutouts.”

Apart from local fans, FIFA, football’s world governing body, took note and tweeted a photograph of the cutouts before the World Cup started on Nov. 20. Along with the photo, FIFA wrote that the World Cup fever had hit Kerala, and that "giant cutouts of Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi popped up on a local river ahead of the tournament."

The 30-foot tall Messi was the first to make an appearance then a taller Neymar soon emerged from the river. Then an even taller Ronaldo dwarfed the other two.

But not everyone is excited about these cutouts as an attorney filed a complaint that they would obstruct the river’s natural flow. Akbar shared that the local authorities, people and political parties have been very supportive, and that they will remove the cutouts "once the World Cup is over."

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will conclude on Dec. 18, and till then fans in Kozhikode, Kerala will also celebrate the greatest event in international football. Brazil and Argentina have always garnered huge support inKerala. Muhammad Basith, who is a businessman and has been a Brazil fan since the late 1990s, believed that the support for Brazil has increased since 1998. But he shared that the fervor for Argentina is more deep-rooted, according to Al Jazeera. He added that people like to portray stars as "larger-than-life characters in Kerala and that also applies to film stars. But footballers connect with them on a different level, especially those from Brazil and Argentina.”

Cristiano Ronaldo
This is a representational image. Photo by Thomas Eisenhuth/Getty Images

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