Indian Football stand with farmers unlike their cricket counterparts
Former Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters midfielder Darren Caldeira was among the first to tweet in solidarity with the farmers' protest.
Star Indian footballers have come out in support of the ongoing farmers' protest despite many big-guns from cricket, including the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, succumbing to the PR pressure from the ruling party.
The Indian cricketers, along with actors and other celebrities, were part of a PR campaign, allegedly by the government, to shut down the international voices that were highlighting the farmers' protests.
India’s sovereignty cannot be compromised. External forces can be spectators but not participants.— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) February 3, 2021
Indians know India and should decide for India. Let's remain united as a nation.#IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda
Celebrated music producer and singer Rihanna, climate-change activist Greta Thunberg and other celebrities had tweeted in support of the farmers who have been protesting against the controversial farm bill for the last few months braving peak winter.
Indian footballers, however, had a different take on the whole subject and refused to bow down to the pressures. Former Bengaluru FC midfielder Darren Caldeira was among the first to tweet in solidarity with the farmers' protest.
"Students are paid. Protestors are paid. Farmers are paid. Now, Rihanna is paid as well. You’d require quite the budget for her. She is worth USD 600 mil according to Forbes. Just saying," tweeted the recently-retired footballer.
Students are paid. Protestors are paid. Farmers are paid. Now, Rihanna is paid as well. You’d require quite the budget for her. She is worth USD 600 mil according to Forbes. Just saying. #FarmersProtest— Darren Caldeira (@darrencaldeira) February 3, 2021
Indian national team player and Chennaiyin FC midfielder Anirudh Thapa Quote Tweeted a message from MP Shashi Tharoor with the message "Let's be democratic again!"
His Chennaiyin teammates were more vocal in support of the farmers though. Karanjit Singh, Deepak Tangri, Germanpreet Singh and Edwin Vanspaul shared tweets in support of the protesting farmers. ATK MB's Michael Soosairaj was amongst the other footballers who lent their support to the farmers.
We must stand by OUR farmers ???????? It is not their fight, it is OUR fight. Whether the world is watching or not, these are real issues faced by real people, the ones on whose backbones are great country is built. And it is our duty to use our platforms to lend our voice to them.???? pic.twitter.com/AUTN5n1J7H— Deepak tangri (@deepaktangri22) February 4, 2021
The two distinct narratives from two of country's biggest sports - cricket and football - also throw light on the background of these sportspersons. Cricket has traditionally been an elite sport despite its democratisation in the last 3-4 decades while football was always a common person's sport. Punjab, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and the North-Eastern states are the traditional hub for footballers in the country. These states have often been outcast in the mainstream Indian narrative and have had multiple altercations with the centre such as the Khalistani movement in Punjab and the insurgency in North East. The socio-economic strata that represent football and cricket also continue to be different.