Moments before the much anticipated INDvPAK T20 World Cup match this past weekend, the Virat Kohli-led team displayed their support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement by taking the knee while the Pakistan team stood with their hands on their hearts.
“That was communicated to us by the management, the Pakistan team agreed to pay their tribute to the same cause. We accept our side of things and that was how it was decided,” Virat Kohli said in a response to an ANI post-match query.
However, the perhaps well-intentional gesture has drawn flak on social media for the players’ haunting silence on recent events, like the violence against the minority Hindu community in Bangladesh, and online abuse against Mohammed Shami (the only Muslim player in the Indian playing XI) who was called a “traitor” and “Pakistani” and blamed for the team’s loss.
Many Indians, including politician and former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Omar Abdullah, urged the Indian cricket team to stand up for their teammate.
#MohammedShami was one of 11 players who lost last night, he wasn’t the only player on the field. Team India your BLM knee taking counts for nothing if you can’t stand up for your team mate who is being horribly abused & trolled on social media.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) October 25, 2021
Indian fans, pls don’t abuse any Indian players just because they didn’t perform well last night. It was heartbreaking but not to forget it’s just a game & the winning streak was always supposed to end someday. So, calm down & keep cheering for #TeamIndia#INDvPAK #Shami #MSDhoni pic.twitter.com/SjD13oGSKx
— Rajneesh Chaudhary (@Rajneesh_16) October 25, 2021
India lost a match to Pakistan in World Cup T20. This is what happens in sport. A better team wins. However targeting #MohammedShami for the loss is terrible & disgusting.
— N Sai Balaji | ఎన్ సాయి బాలాజీ (@nsaibalaji) October 25, 2021
Others pointed out the hypocrisy of taking the knee in solidarity with BLM while turning a blind eye to important issues within the country.
Just learnt Indian team took the knee today, in solidarity with BLM. Good to know they’re keeping themselves informed about current affairs in America. Perhaps one of these days they’ll feel the urge to make a statement for those in India who are being marginalised and targeted. pic.twitter.com/NiMCayVjSk
— Deepanjana (@dpanjana) October 24, 2021
India players taking the knee for BLM while staying absolutely mum about everything happening in India is just…
— Karthik Krishnaswamy (@the_kk) October 24, 2021
– Farmers protest
– Hate crimes against Muslims & Dalits
– Attack on Kashmiri Students
Few things out of many currently going on in India yet the Indian cricket team wants to take a knee for BLM while completely disregarding all the problems in their own country. Performative.
— H Brar (@harkiratkia) October 25, 2021
Even before the match, discontent had been stirring among many Indian cricket fans for playing against Pakistan in the wake of violence in Jammu & Kashmir, but the BCCI had clarified they could not back out.
Many felt taking the knee was a marketing ploy, picking and choosing their activism rather than using their massive social media platforms and celebrity status in India to make an important stand.
Instead of showing support with black lives matter matter, they could have showed solidarity with Indian armed forces.Condemning terrorism especially during Indo-Pak game, would have been huge morale booster for the country. Winning and loosing is part of the game #INDvPAK #BLM
— Rahul Singh (@singhrahul_1) October 25, 2021
Would have felt bad had India been losing while playing with black ribbons on the sleeves to protest against persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh.
But they chose the BLM cause.
— Amātyā☢ (@sikeprophecy) October 24, 2021
(10/10) While Colin Kaepernick’s gesture of kneeling amid a lot of criticism from the powerful American Sports institutions was truly pushing for justice, this one from the Indian Cricket team just reinforced Globalist Colonial Institutions. #virtuesignaling #BLMappropriation
— Sneha Rao (@SnehaRao994) October 25, 2021
With recent events, including the terrible online abuse faced by Mohammed Shami, it seems the Indian cricket team’s activism must also look inward, addressing crucial issues faced by minorities within their own country, alongside their global activism.
What did you think about the team’s gesture? Let us know in the comments below!