Class war in Kolkata: Why East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan is more than a game

Salt Lake Stadium is a huge, drab slab of concrete that sits, like some wayward Cold War relic, in a northern suburb of Kolkata rather grandly named Salt Lake City. It’s suburbs such as this where that Indian economic miracle you’ve been hearing about is beginning to assert itself, announced in the glittering glass towers and five-star hotels that join the stadium on the skyline like altogether more fashionable and affluent residents.

It’s a couple of hours before kick-off and the crowds are already gathering inside the stadium. Hindi songs crackle from the PA system, the sound of drums rises up through the thick, mosquito-infested air, and fans let off bangers so loud they rattle the spine. The spectrum of colour moves from red and yellow through to maroon and green; the former belonging to East Bengal, the latter to Mohun Bagan, both Kolkatan sides, and the oldest and greatest rivals in Indian football. 

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