AIFF President Mr. Kalyan Chaubey said: “We have received information of multiple approaches to our players. We will thoroughly examine the incidents, investigate, and take all necessary action
For a long time, sport contentedly watched performers basking in the adulation of fans. God was in Heaven and all was right with the world. Then came a seismic upheaval. Social media got suddenly to be full of posts hostile to sport’s archetypal heroes, sometimes overpoweringly so, in language that was from the putrid gutter which deeply disturbed the iconic personalities. The online onslaught went on though, more frequently as the years passed amid burgeoning competitive action and, crucially, sport’s in – house ambience worsened. Thankfully, India was largely unblemished but things were bad elsewhere in the big, bad world. Race, gender, identity attacks: everything was par for the course. Not a long time later, stars dealing with assorted monsters began talking of retaliation. Brandon Marshall, of American football, said in 2004 he wanted to take on a trash-talker. Josh Neer, a bare-knuckle boxer, has let an obnoxious character have it. Dwight Howard, of basketball, can be ready instantly for rough retribution.
But the list of those taken on keeps getting longer. Kirsty Gilmour plays badminton for Scotland, Great Britain and, of course, for herself, has a reasonably good track record and has recently written about her experience of online abuse, kicking off her narrative by telling us: “Apparently I’m part of a mafia. I’m a bitch. A prostitute. Why? Because I lost a match.” It is a shocker; the details of the matter are quite deeply disturbing. Sportspersons, of course, have long stopped being referred reverentially to, quite unlike the obituaries of Bobby Charlton recently. Death threats to famous and perfectly civilised sportspersons today are a pathetic commonplace. Even someone like Roger Federer has had his share of casually thrown muck, which makes you wonder can anyone escape it unless they have the benefits of both obscurity and anonymity. The aggressor, in the Gilmour story, may only have lost a bet when she went down in a match and he may not even reveal so much as a cursory interest in how the faraway sporting exchanges panned out but the intensity of his hatred was unmistakable. What is worse, it happens to be just one example of online filth in a cornucopia of repetitive, sickening similarity. A pattern is discernible, say experts. Abusive tweets, it is said, “threaten, insult, dehumanise, mock and belittle targeted players” using “slurs, negative stereotypes, excessive outpourings of profanities and angry emotions.” And even if Gilmour’s side of things stresses a sexist bias, men can be just as vulnerable as women. More than 300 social media messages with outrageous content are sent to Ènglish Premier League players. No one is safe from being trodden on, Cristiano Ronaldo or Harry Kane. Sport’s credibility is said to have slipped rapidly as a substantial number of people probably think sportspersons are accomplices in a criminal enterprise making a lot of money. Surveillance and punishment have not worked. It is like playing a match where you keep getting tripped up