"Wherever you go, you see (youths) wearing jerseys of various teams. It's like idol worship which our religion doesn't promote in any form," said Sattar Pathallur, secretary of the Sunni Students Federation in Malappuram district of Kerala state.

"Youths and students are behaving as if they had gone mad," said Pathallur.
  
"I firmly believe that there is a conspiracy to divert the attention of Muslim youth to an unproductive exercise."

Some 63 percent of the 3.62 million population of the district are Muslims, many of whom prefer football to cricket, India's national sport.

The organisation is keen to stress that they are not against the principle of following football but felt many youths were taking it to extremes.

"We are not against football. But we are worried about the soccer mania gripping our people. It's unprecedented," said Hameed Ali Shihab Thangal, regional president of the federation.

To achieve its aims the organization has been holding religious lessons, rallies and public meetings to encourage youths to tone down their passion for the World Cup.

However, not everyone agrees with the actions of the federation.

"It's absurd. These people are talking nonsense. Malappuram people are great fans of soccer. It's natural for them to watch their great heroes in action," said schoolteacher Labeed Areekode, also a football player.

Others were simply unimpressed.
  
"The critics of soccer are scoring only own goals as nobody is going to listen to them," said Najimudeen Koya, a World Cup enthusiast.
  
Others said the group were also worried that the sport was becoming increasingly popular among women.