The “Colours of Love” did not go down well with the fans of Kerala Blasters FC.
The club has come under fire from a section of its fanbase after it welcomed June, Queer Pride Month.
The Blasters took to Instagram to extend their support to the queer community by posting a poster, saying, “Embrace the colors of love! Blasters aspire to lead the way with inclusivity, community, and sportsmanship!”
The poster made many fans of the football club see red. The call for inclusiveness irked numerous ‘fans’ and the responses included homophobic and transphobic slurs.
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Sounds of intolerance
“Supporting an ideology without understanding what it stands for is utter foolishness. Hope you will realize one day what were you supporting #notpride,” an Instagram user Riju Salim responded.
“Save our kids.. no to pride.. yes to morality,” read a comment by another user, Shibil TK.
Some others even called for a boycott of the club in Kerala, which embraces football more than cricket. The club’s message made a few others “seeing the reason” for the team leaving the pitch in their play-off ISL match last season: Its “woke attitude”.
Blasters walked off the pitch and forfeited the match after the referee allowed a controversial Sunil Chhetri strike in their game against Bengaluru FC on 3 March.
Some users, who claimed to be supporters of the club, held the queer community responsible for the spread of HIV around the world.
Strangely, numerous comments on the Instagram post were images of English footballer Jamie Richard Vardy smashing a rainbow-coloured corner flag.
The image was from a December 2020 Premier League match. The Leicester City FC striker Vardy had courted controversy after he kicked a rainbow-coloured corner flag after scoring the winner for Leicester City in the 90th minute of the game against Sheffield United.
However, Vardy later clarified that his act was unintentional and according to Foxes Pride, the LGBTQ+ supporters of Leicester City, Vardy had written a note on the same flag that he had kicked, supporting their efforts.
“Foxes Pride, keep up the good work!” Vardy wrote and signed the flag.
Three cheers to Blasters
Although outnumbered, there were also comments supporting the LGBTQIA+ community. There were many who took pride in Kerala Blasters coming out in celebration of the “colours of love”.
“We should congratulate Kerala Blasters for its declaration of inclusiveness. In sports, Kerala Blasters are the biggest brand in the state, and the public perception they create has a larger impact,” Anil A, a queer ally, told South First.
He opined that, in Kerala, education is the only domain where the practice of inclusiveness has started in recent years, thanks to the government’s serious interventions.
Anil further stated that at workplaces the inclusive nature is limited and in the realm of sports it is absent.
Referring to a transgender athletic meet in 2018, Anil said it might perhaps be the only sporting event the government had hosted. There were no follow-ups, he added.
Anil believed if there were follow-up events it could have helped in addressing transphobia to some extent.
“Being a gay or lesbian is an individual choice. We have to ensure their protection from cyber-attacks and mob lynching as they are vulnerable in this society,” he added.
South First’s calls to the representatives of Manjappada went unanswered.