• Saturday, July 13, 2024

FOOTBALL

Wearing Manipur ethnic flag after SAFF title win: India footballer Jeakson Singh clarifies

Jeakson Singh Thounaojam’s act of draping himself with a flag representing the Meitei ethnicity of Manipur sparked a controversy with many calling it ‘secessionist’ and ‘unprofessional’

India footballer Jeakson Singh Thounaojam (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

A DAY after his act of draping himself with a Kangleipak flag representing the northeastern state Manipur’s Meitei ethnicity created a controversy, Indian footballer Jeakson Singh Thounaojam clarified that he did not want to hurt anyone but only bring to everybody’s notice the ongoing violent situation in his home state.

Manipur has seen ethnic clashes between the majority Meiteis and tribal Kukis over granting of Scheduled Tribe status to the former since May 3, resulting in death of more than 130 and injury to several hundreds. Many people have been rendered homeless and no appeal from the authorities has succeeded in restoring peace in the state.

The 22-year-old Jeakson, who belongs to the town of Thoubal which has also seen unrest and death, was seen draped in the seven-colour flag that represents the seven dynasties of the Meitei ethnicity, after India defeated Kuwait 5-4 in penalties in the final of the SAFF Championship tournament at Sree Kanteerava Satadium in Bengaluru on Tuesday (4).

As the act sparked controversy with many calling it “secessionist” and “unprofessional”, the footballer issued a statement saying, “Dear fans, by celebrating in the flag, I did not want to hurt the sentiments of anyone. I intended to bring notice to the issues that my home state, Manipur, is facing currently. This win tonight is dedicated to all the Indians. I hope that peace returns to my home state of Manipur. Thank you to the fans for coming out and supporting the team tonight!”

As a section of fans sought involvement from the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in the incident, it also released a statement later saying it would not intrude into the matter since the footballer had already clarified his position.

“Since Jeakson Singh Thounaojam has already issued a statement on this (incident) clarifying his position, we are not going to take it forward,” the statement from AIFF read.

One report also said that Indian captain Sunil Chhetri, who scored the most number of goals in the tournament, also spoke on Manipur after winning the trophy, saying, “This win is dedicated to my people in Manipur, Manipur loves football, and it pains me to see what’s happening there; I hope Manipur unitedly celebrates this win.”

However, fact checkers later found it to be untrue.

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