The Sunday Mail
The Fifa World Cup tournament currently underway in Russia has been a roller-coaster ride as favourites and defending champions Germany crashed out in the group stage following shock defeats to minnows Mexico and South Korea.
Other footballing giants such as Argentina, Spain and Brazil also flirted with elimination having lived until the very last moments to confirm their places in the round of 16.
Fans have been living on the brink.
Some have had to cry, tears of sorrow for the conquered and tears of joy for the victors.
But then again, as the meme doing rounds on social media goes, “gone are the days when football was watched by cheering fans as it is now watched by terrified gamblers”.
“If you see them crying it’s not because they love the team so much,” said one lady who works in a betting shop in Harare.
“They have put so much money on the line, especially those who cry the hardest, and they are terrified with the impending consequences.”
Talk of how people have put their whole salaries, school fees, trust funds and properties on the line to make some profit is currently dominating public discourse.
And with some football heavyweights suffering shock defeats, the betting ticket has left hearts broken.
Not only hearts have been broken this World Cup, but friendships and marriages too.
A gambler who placed a bet of $1 000 on Germany to win the match against Mexico at Supabets’ Market Square shop can testify to the pains of the World Cup competition so far.
With the odds paying $0,42 for a Germany win, the player savoured the possibility of scooping a handsome $420 profit.
Germany lost the game and the “foolishness” was roundly condemned on social media “for gambling such a huge amount of money in this difficult economy”.
As if not to be outdone, another punter put at stake $600 for Germany to lift the trophy at Megagame just a few minutes before the defending champions took on South Korea in their final group game.
The ticket had a potential payout of $4 800 but at 6pm that day, the punter’s hopes were shattered as Germany lost 0-2 to South Korea and crashed out of the World Cup.
Not only did Germany fail to get past the group stage, it finished last in its group behind Sweden, Mexico and South Korea.
Perhaps its most expensive defeat was the 2-0 loss to arguably one of the weakest sides in the tournament, South Korea.
The odds for South Korea to beat Germany hovered at 15/1 meaning for a dollar, one would get $15.
Given the depth and mighty in the Germany squad, it was conceivable that the defending champions would walk over the Koreans.
But fate had its way and a battalion of trolls was quickly out for the kill.
And as expected, social media went into overdrive after the knock-out, the common being that “Germany went to Russia unprepared for three times, first and second during the two World Wars and third during the World Cup”.
But Germany are not the only team to have cost people fortunes.
The first spoiler for gamblers could have come with a one-all draw between Lionel Messi’s Argentina and freshmen Iceland.
With Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria in their ranks, Argentina were clear favourites to win the match for most gamblers.
Then came Brazil’s one-all draw with Switzerland.
A side with a superstar like Neymar is expected to do anything else but a draw with Switzerland and gamblers were understandably tempted to tip the South Americans.
Having been held by Iceland, Argentina found itself losing three-nil to Croatia in its second game, giving hope to Nigeria who had just managed a two-nil victory over Iceland.
With Nigeria only needing a draw against Argentina to progress to the next round, for some the money was on the West Africans.
The spiritual trolls on social media could not be left out, declaring, “lf Brazil were struggling with Jesus on their side, what more could Nigeria have done with only Moses in theirs.”
The chaos has not been limited to betting losses. In most homes, the fight for the remote control has been uppermost, with little wars on who is in charge of the remote control.