With one of the most riveting seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL) ending with a bang almost a month earlier (yes, it has been that long), I assumed cricket fans might have had to return to a humdrum life full of lackluster amidst the dearth of content around the league. Read on to discover some of the ugliest controversies delivered by the world’s most celebrated T20 league!

Though this might be an exaggeration, the two months across which the IPL spans is arguably the most exhilaratingly gripping time of the year for not just fans but cricket viewers in general, keeping them on the edge of their seats (all credits to the IPL scriptwriters). While cricket lies at the heart of the game, the league carries with it a fair share of bizarre controversies and scandals. Though this might be an exaggeration, the two months across which the IPL spans is arguably the most exhilaratingly gripping time of the year for not just fans but cricket viewers in general, keeping them on the edge of their seats (all credits to the IPL scriptwriters). While cricket lies at the heart of the game, the league carries with it a fair share of bizarre controversies and scandals.

1. The Delhi boys meet in Lucknow

Nearly 10 years after their viral spat in 2013, Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir reunited in the latest edition of the league for a dramatic recreation of their heated exchange. The tension began when Gambhir, a mentor to Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), was seen shushing the crowd post a one-wicket nail-biting victory against
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the latter’s home ground. The 2 teams met again in Lucknow where the altercation began with a fiery chat between Kohli and LSG’s Naveen-ul-Haq mid-match, both of whom lost their cool again during the post-match customary handshakes. Soon enough, LSG opener Kyle Mayers’ exchange
with Kohli triggered Gambhir to step in and profanities were thrown around as players from both teams intervened to prevent the fight from getting further. Both players were fined 100% of their match fees for breaching the IPL Code of Conduct. So, despite them claiming they are “good friend” on and off the field, their juvenile brawls every now and then are the perfect reminder of how animosities like these are set in stone!


Kohli and Gambhir- 20 days apart!

2. The OG ‘Slapgate’
You are wrong if you think Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars was the original Slapgate- Bhaji did it  first! The first-ever IPL controversy during the inaugural season of the league in 2008, despite never being captured on camera, took no time to hit the headlines. Losing to Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) extended Mumbai Indians’ (MI) losing streak to 3, which undoubtedly created tension for their new skipper Harbhajan Singh, who was leading the team in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar. Allegedly, post an easy win, KXIP’s S.Sreesanth approached his national teammate Singh with a cheeky smile and muttered “hard luck”, which was taken by the latter in the wrong intention and triggered a physical altercation. The details of what went down remain a blur, but Sreesanth was seen crying inconsolably on live TV while Bhaji faced a ban from the remaining matches of the season for “unprovoked assault”.

A tearful Sreesanth breaking down after being slapped by Singh.

3.  Bade Bade Shehron Mein Aisi Choti Choti Baatein Hoti Rehti Hai?
India’s heartthrob and the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan is famous among the masses for his charm, wit, and poise. However, after Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) beat Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the enthralling 2012 IPL final, an allegedly drunk SRK got into a verbal scuffle with the security officials of the Maharashtra Cricket
Association (MCA). The actor, denying any misconduct, stated that he only reacted after his kids were “manhandled” by the security staff, who also abused him first. After the incident, going all “Don ka stadium mein ghusna mushkil hi nahi, namumkin hai,” the MCA managing committee put a 5-year ban prohibiting King Khan, co-owner of KKR, from entering the Wankhede Stadium-the venue of the final. Later, the actor issued an apology and served the ban faithfully for 3 years, until it was lifted in 2015.

SRK slapped with a 5-year ban from the iconic Wankhede stadium.

4. Jade-ja or na ja?
Ravindra Jadeja, despite a nearly controversial season this year, played an integral role in Chennai bagging their 5th IPL trophy. Rewind to 2008 when even after having a stupendous season with Rajasthan Royals(RR), and being labeled a “superstar in the making” by legendary Australian cricketer Shane Warne, he found himself amidst a huge controversy. Considering his brilliant performance, the franchise insisted on signing him for the next 2 years but Jaddu agreed to continue with them for only one. However, he was also found to be negotiating with other IPL franchises for higher pay and more lucrative deals (allegedly looking for a possible ‘Gateway’). This violated the code of conduct, according to which, he could only do this if RR- who had the first right to refusal- let him go. The emerging star was found guilty of indulging in ‘anti-team activities’ by the IPL Governing Council, which slapped a one-year ban prohibiting him from participating in the 2011 season.

Jadeja credited Warne for giving him a huge platform during the
inaugural season.

5. And the ‘Mankading’ begins!
Ravichandran Ashwin attempting another ‘Mankad’ this season and escaping a scandal by a hairbreadth is proof that old habits die hard. However, he was not as fortunate in 2019 when the actions of the Indian off-spinner, then captain of Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), were frowned upon by the cricketing fraternity. Jos Butler, with an impressive 69 off 43 balls was leading Rajasthan Royals (RR) towards a high-scoring victory until he was dismissed by Ashwin, who seemingly stopped in his bowling action waiting for the non-striker to exit the crease and knock the stumps out. Even as the umpires asked the bowler to reconsider on grounds of ethicality, Ashwin, who claimed that he had given multiple warnings did not abandon the appeal, which resulted in a fuming Butler taking a dejected walk back to the pavilion. Getting its name from Indian all-rounder Vinoo Mankad and though a perfectly legal way of dismissal, the action has for long been looked down upon as ‘unsportsmanlike’ and ‘going against the spirit of the game’.

‘Mankad’ has stirred a massive debate among cricket experts.

6. Lalit Modi ‘Sus’-pension
Hours after Chennai Super Kings bagged their first IPL trophy in 2010, the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) shocked the entire cricket fraternity by sacking their Vice-President and IPL Chairman Lalit Modi on “alleged acts of individual misdemeanors.” Modi, who is often credited with the worldwide success of the league, was reportedly involved in rigging bids, bullying franchises, and money laundering during the franchise auction in 2010. He was also accused of selling broadcasting and internet rights without authorization. Modi denied all charges and soon fled to London, hence failing to appear in front of BCCI’s disciplinary committee.
Subsequently in 2013, finding him guilty of misconduct, the committee slapped him with a life ban, restricting him from any future involvement in cricket.

IPL Chairman sacked after being found guilty of misconduct.

7. The ‘Betting Rajas’
Indian pacer S.Sreesanth found himself entangled in yet another controversy; this time, however, on the receiving end of condemnation. In 2013, Delhi Police arrested 3 Rajasthan Royals (RR) players- Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, and Ankeet Chavan on charges of spot-fixing, and subsequently, they faced a life ban imposed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). This triggered one of the most heartbreaking moments in the history of the IPL when fans had to witness the suspension of the two most loved teams- Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals-from the league in 2015. Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of CSK’s owner and then BCCI President N Srinivasan (who eventually resigned), and Raj Kundra, co-owner of Rajasthan Royals were banned for life from being involved in cricket by a 3-member committee appointed by the Supreme Court of India. The 2 teams faced a 2-year suspension from the league, eventually making an exciting comeback in the 2018 season.

CSK and RR face consequences for being involved in match-fixing.

With all that goes on within the league, I am sure there will be a lot more than just cricket to watch out for in the upcoming season as well!

Read Also: Student Unions and the Queer Community: Authentic Representation or Queer Baiting? 
Featured Image Credits: The Indian Express

Manvi Goel
[email protected]

The FIFA World Cup is a global sensation. The Qatar edition happens to be the most expensive one yet – financially and morally.

Eight years ago, in June 2014, a phenomenon was taking the planet by storm. The FIFA World Cup was taking place in Brazil – the home of flair, samba and carnival. Like any other 10 year old, I found myself glued to the TV to figure out what all the fuss was about. The aforementioned TV was broadcasting a match between Spain and the Netherlands. Well, the little boy version of me knew Spain was supposedly a big deal that had won the last World Cup and that one of the players in the Dutch team played for Manchester United and wore my birthday number. All I knew was that his shirt said “v. Persie” with the number 20 and it was enough to change my allegiance. And then, he shocked the world (and little me) by scoring one of the most outrageous goals in the history of the sport.

That was the day, dear reader, that this boy found a new thing to obsess over for almost an entire decade. I wasn’t alone either, football or “the beautiful game” is the most widespread sport on the planet. For context, there are 195 nations on Earth, with 193 being member nations of the United Nations. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) has 211 recognised national football associations – 192 of which are fully recognised independent nations.

The FIFA World Cup is the culmination of this obsession with kicking a ball into a net and it takes place every four years. It is a celebration of the sport and a month-long tournament that invites the 32 best footballing nations across the globe to represent their national teams and take home the golden trophy. This week, on the 20th of November, 2022 the 22nd edition of the competition was kickstarted in Qatar.

In 2014, the World Cup was played in Brazil – the home of the record five time champions. Since then, it has been played in Russia in 2018 and now, in Qatar in 2022 and both these editions of the legendary competition have seen allegations of corruption and general backlash. Qatar, though, has been especially ensnared by a web of scandals surrounding the entire tournament.

The first scandal took place way back in 2010, when FIFA was deciding where to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups amongst the nations that had bid for the opportunity. Two months before the organisation was supposed to announce the winner, it had to suspend 2 of its 24 member executive committee – that was in charge of selecting the host nation – due to them being accused of offering to sell their votes. The two men would later receive temporary bans from FIFA. Four years later, leaked emails implied that Qatari football official and former FIFA executive committee member, Mohammed bin Hammam had allegedly bribed FIFA officials to ensure the success of Qatar’s bid. At the time, he had already received a lifetime ban from FIFA in 2011 for unrelated corruption charges. There were subsequent investigations by both: the US Department of Justice and the Swiss authorities into FIFA’s alleged corruption. Over the next few years, several FIFA officials were convicted of corruption charges and were arrested, banned from football or forced to go on the run. The most prominent of these was then FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, resigning shortly after winning a reelection campaign to his fifth consecutive term. In April 2020, the Department of Justice released new evidence that again implied that three FIFA officials had received bribes from unnamed intermediaries to vote for Qatar. However, while almost all of the then FIFA executives were arrested, fined or banned in police raids and prosecutions, neither the US Department of Justice nor the Swiss authorities could ever connect the other end of the bribery string to Qatar.

Fair or not, Qatar had won its bid in 2010 and that meant preparing to welcome the best players of the world in 2022. One problem, though: the small Middle-Eastern nation wasn’t equipped to play a tournament as big as the World Cup yet – and that meant investing. And invest it did – the Qatar World Cup is the most expensive World Cup in history. The country had the cash for it and thus went on to spend 220 billion USD in building seven stadiums, a new airport, a series of roads, metro system and about 100 new hotels. An entire city was built around the stadium that will host the final match. Qatar’s government says that over 30,000 migrant workers from countries like India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and more were hired to build the infrastructure for the event. In 2021, The Guardian reported that, according to numbers provided by the aforementioned countries’ embassies, over 6,500 migrant workers had died working on the event since Qatar had won its bid in 2010.

Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers is not new. It is a result of poor labour laws and the kafala system (a sponsorship system where workers are tethered to their sponsors in legally binding contracts). In 2016, a non profit organisation, Amnesty International, accused Qatar of using forced labour by withholding wages and passports. Migrant workers told Amnesty International that they received verbal abuses and threats when they complained about not being paid for several months. Nepali workers were not even allowed to return home after the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. Amnesty further accused FIFA of failing to stop the stadium being built on “human rights abuses”. Qatar did go on to implement reforms such as implementing a monthly minimum wage and reforming the kafala system. However, these reforms have still been described as too little too late by human rights organisations across the globe. 6,500 people had still needlessly died in the 11 years before, the new minimum wage was still too less for Qatar’s high living costs and abuses were still taking place albeit to a lesser degree. These abuses have seen backlash from other football associations as well, especially the US, England and the Netherlands. Various professional footballers have regularly talked about the long list of allegations against the country. England and the Dutch national team have even invited migrant workers to train with the squad in a show of support. While Qatar has definitely taken steps to address the situation, one must wonder if a country that needs global backlash to start changing its abusive ways is a good candidate to host an event that is supposed to bring the world together.

I think for what we Europeans have been doing for 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologising for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people.”- Gianni Infantino, FIFA President defending Qatar

With a history of human rights abuses, it was not long before the world would show up at Qatar’s door accusing them of sportswashing. “Sportswashing” is a term coined by human rights activists in the 2010s to describe regimes with a reputation of oppression and cruelty using sporting events to clear up their reputation. In recent years, there have been many accusations of sportswashing made in the football world. The previous World Cup held in Russia was accused of it, and so was the Russian oligarch and one of Vladimir Putin’s trusted advisors, Roman Abramovich. Abramovich was the former owner of Chelsea Football Club and his regular millions of dollars of investments into the club brought it much success over the past decade. In Abramovich’s case, it worked: after Russia invaded Ukraine, the British government forced Abramovich to sell the club due to his involvement as a close advisor of Putin. During the momentary applause before Premier League games in solidarity with Ukraine that was conducted at the time, Chelsea fans sang Abramovich’s name as a show of support – completely disregarding his involvement with the aggressors of Ukraine. We are yet to see if Qatar’s alleged sportswashing attempts have worked – although some experts fear it might have but for a reason far removed from actual football.

The unfortunate reality of this “beautiful game” is that football fans can be incredibly bigoted. Sexism exists as keyboard warriors do their best to undermine women’s football at every turn, mocking demands of fair pay. Racism has only seen a real decline in recent years but still rears its heads whenever a person of colour cannot perform on the pitch. Homophobia is rampant – to the point where there is exactly one footballer who belongs to the LGBTQ community and is heading to the FIFA World Cup (Josh Cavallo for Australia). This unfortunate characteristic has made fans support Qatar’s anti LGBTQ stance while disguising these archaic and dystopian beliefs as “respecting their culture” and accusing the west of “shoving woke propaganda down everyone’s throats”. Qatar happens to have a history of curtailing the rights of the LGBTQ community and women. The country has draconian laws that criminalise sexual intercourse between individuals of the same sex and forces transgender people to undergo conversion therapy. Qatari members of the LGBTQ community have reported being intimidated and harassed by the police regularly. An environment like this has made many fans from the community reluctant to attend the World Cup for fear of punishment by Qatari authorities simply for their identities. In 2010, when asked about Qatar’s inclusion of the LGBTQ community, Sepp Blatter had told the community that they “should refrain from any sexual activities.” While FIFA then issued an apology at the time, and has recently assured fans they would not be prosecuted for such a situation, the atmosphere is still too hostile to risk for most people.

This situation has also seen backlash from various footballing nations. Eight European nations had announced that they would be wearing “One Love” armbands in support of the LGBTQ community. FIFA, however, warned the teams that should they go along with the plan, they would immediately be cautioned with yellow cards when the game kicks off. This has forced the countries to step down from their decision but not without criticising FIFA’s decisions. Fans have allegedly been targeted when wearing rainbow flags or hats in the stadiums. A US reporter was allegedly denied entry by security due to him wearing a rainbow shirt. The President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino has repeatedly defended Qatar in various statements and has also insisted that the country’s leadership welcomed people with open arms regardless of their sexuality, sex or race. Yet, the experiences of the fans in the actual stadiums beg to differ.

Seeing you have banned all teams to wear the One Love armband to actively support LGBTQ+ at the World Cup. You have lost my respect. All the work my fellow allies and the LGBTQ+ community are doing to make football inclusive, you have shown that football isn’t a place for everyone.” – Australian footballer Josh Cavallo, a member of the LGBTQ community, addressing FIFA

Even if somehow you can get rid of human empathy and move past the human rights abuses, corruption and stigma surrounding the tournament, the actual match-watching experiences aren’t satisfactory either. The World Cup saw the construction of “fan villages” such as the Rawdat Al Jahhaniya which have been extremely criticised. The issue is, these so-called fan villages are made out of shipping containers and cost 300$ a night. Shipping containers in the desert with malfunctioning air conditioners for 300 USD a night – ah yes, the football fan’s utopia.

The match-watching experience for many fans also involves a lot of alcohol and FIFA knows that. After all, there is a reason that Budweiser is a main sponsor for the tournament. Despite Qatari laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol, FIFA had assured fans that alcohol would be served around the stadium. Budweiser was given designated areas in stadiums where alcohol could be sold and fans could be allowed to consume it. However, eight days before the event, Qatari officials informed Budweiser that their tents would be moved to less prominent locations and were no longer allowed inside the stadium itself but could be sold within the perimeter. Two days before the tournament, FIFA announced that all points of sale of alcoholic beverages would be removed from the stadiums in direct contradiction of the Qatari bid in 2010. This was a surprise, since in 2014 FIFA had forced Brazil to alter its previously stricter laws to allow World Cup fans to consume alcoholic beverages in the stadium freely – at the grave risk to safety and security.

I think personally, if for three hours a day you cannot drink a beer, you will survive.” – Gianni Infantino, FIFA President

This tournament has not proved to be a good proposition for the professionals that compete in it either. Traditionally, the World Cup takes place for an entire month in June, while players play for domestic leagues and cups from August to May. However, due to Qatar’s desert climate, the tournament was shifted to November-December as the climate would be too harsh on the players in June. The issue with this scenario is that the normal league seasons had been conducted as usual. However, with a FIFA World Cup sandwiched in between the normal league season the amount of games that players have to play during the same duration has increased by a lot. Throughout a normal season, teams often play more than 50 matches and it is normal for various players to be out with minor injuries for a game or two. With so many matches to play, though, it is expected that many players will suffer injuries that’ll keep them off the pitch for longer periods of time. While Qatar might be far from a fair World Cup, it is still a World Cup and most players do not often get the chance to represent their country at the biggest stage more than twice or thrice in their careers. It is thus, a huge blow to miss out on Qatar 2022 for anyone. Yet, this unusual tournament has led to a significant number of high profile players missing it such as Timo Werner, Christopher Nkunku, Lo Celso and more. The defending champions, France, have been especially unlucky with a number of their most important players such as Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, Raphael Varane, N’Golo Kante and others missing the entire tournament.

These are unfortunately, still not the end of the things wrong with the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar doesn’t allow free speech against its government, nor does it allow practice of any religion other than Islam in public spaces. There have been reports over the past few weeks that the country has hired people from Pakistan to play the role of fake fans to make up for the lack of travelling fans to the tournament. Qatar’s initial promises of sustainable stadiums and air conditioning for players on the pitch and the fans have started to be exposed as being hollow. The opener between Qatar and Ecuador was surrounded by rumours that Qatar had allegedly bribed 8 Ecuador players to lose the match (Ecuador won that by 2-0). Many Western nations have regularly hit back against the various controversies surrounding the tournament and Qatar at large. Denmark has decided to wear black jerseys instead of their usual red to mourn the deaths of the migrant workers who died in the past decade. FIFA has addressed these complaints by telling nations to “stick to football not politics” insisting that “FIFA is not in the business of giving moral lessons to the rest of the world”; a statement that the nations have openly expressed their displeasure for. An especially ironic statement considering FIFA chose to ban Russia from the FIFA World Cup after its occupation of Ukraine, showing that geopolitics in football only seem to matter when the party in the wrong is not currently generating revenue for FIFA.

The one good outcome of this is that the backlash is working even if only to a certain extent. There are positive steps being taken too. The Netherlands pledged on Friday to press FIFA into creating a long term resource centre for migrant workers in Doha. Several coaches and federations have backed calls to create a compensation fund for migrant workers. As mentioned before, eight European teams have done their best to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community, even publicly speaking out against FIFA’s attempts to stop them from doing so and despite homophobia prevailing in a majority of their fanbases. Even if too little and too late, Qatar did make some reforms to their predatory labour laws and hopefully further steps are not far behind.

I am no longer the 10 year old who fell in love with football thanks to the Flying Dutchman in 2014. I am 19 now and know way more about this beautiful game and somehow love it even more. This version of the FIFA World Cup is strange though; it doesn’t quite fill you with the same feeling of unity through a shared love for a game where magic is real. Maybe that’s because it simply doesn’t seek unity anymore, instead choosing to discriminate, oppress and alienate. Perhaps, for me and over a billion other fans, it is simply impossible to look past the ugliness of the beautiful game anymore.

Siddharth Kumar

[email protected]

Image credits: Sky Sports, Yahoo Sports, The Hindu, FIFA

Read Also: Sports and its Legions of Fanatics

From India’s cricket team with their legions of fans across the country to Barcelona’s Cules, sports have long been known to bring together some of the largest die-hard communities around the globe. So what happens when this fanaticism is left unchecked?

It was a warm night on 4th of September, 2022 at the Dubai International Stadium as India took on fierce rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup. In the 18th over, Arshdeep Singh – a young and promising bowler who’d only made his India debut a couple of months ago – missed a vital catch. India was soon beaten by the neighbours and even though the 23 year old bowler’s final over was the reason the team still had a fighting chance at all, his fate was already sealed in the minds of most Indians across the country. In the days that followed, Arshdeep was subjected to a barrage of xenophobic comments all over social media dressed up as “criticism”. At one point, the bowler’s Wikipedia page was even edited to include references to Khalistan.

All this blind and raging hate to a young, bright star of the Indian national team for a dropped catch. This phenomenon isn’t new. Sporting events are incredibly huge and have some of the largest viewerships of any piece of entertainment in the world. With that kind of following, it is not strange to see that these communities attract all kinds of people – even the rotten apples. Where sports are seen as the peak of human ability, the communities they create often harbour the lowest cesspit of human morality.

The more alarming thing is the incredible scale and the normalisation of these regular campaigns of hate and character assassination. Arshdeep Singh is not the first and is likely not the last in a line of victims of sports fanaticism gone wrong. In 2021, Indian fast bowler, Mohammed Shami, was called a “traitor” and “Pakistani” following India’s defeat to Pakistan in a T20 match. In July 2021, some of England’s brightest young stars had racist abuses and bottles hurled at them after they missed the chance to score in a penalty shootout that could’ve won the country’s first trophy in 54 years. For most athletes, any faltered steps in their pursuits of perfection are an invitation for the bigoted cockroaches to come crawling out ready for a new day of insults, casual racism and death threats.

Quite possibly the most ironic part of this phenomenon is that sports thrive off of their ubiquity. They unite nations, states and even localities in their support for the best athletes that represent them competitively throughout history. Unfortunately, they just as easily unite the morally corrupt against an individual. Whether it’s the racist remarks hurled at opposition players in football leagues across Europe or the xenophobia hurled at their own team’s players for simple mistakes in India, it seems like stadiums are not temples dedicated to the game but instead, a safe space for bigotry and hate without consequences.

This fanaticism isn’t only an issue against athletes either. In 1985, during a final between Liverpool and Juventus, Liverpool fans started throwing projectiles at opposition fans who tried to climb the walls to escape the violence. The ensuing chaos couldn’t be handled by the ageing stadium and the stadium collapsed, killing 39 and injuring 600. More recently, in Turkey 2013, after a fierce derby was won by Fenerbahce over Galatasaray, a Fenerbahce fan was murdered by two Galatasaray fans as perceived “revenge”. India’s 2021 loss to Pakistan in a T20 tournament was followed by as many as 14 Kashmiri students beaten up across the country. It’s a tragedy that this incredible passion in the supporters can often hurt the supporters themselves.

Such violent events might lead one to wonder why anyone would want to be involved in such a violent (and sometimes, kind of stupid) phenomenon at all? The answer is, of course, community. Sports and their fan bases allow people to find like minded individuals. They create incredibly strong bonds over a competitive game and in a lot of instances, create a rivalry against other communities. As long as these rivalries stay within the rules of sportsmanship, they are incredible to be a part of. Fierce but friendly banter is exciting – it’s the subtle undertones of hate that tend to cause harm, especially in the hands of impassioned supporters.

One could argue that the reason behind such violent atmospheres surrounding sports and competition is that they are seen as an alternative to violence in the name of political, religious or communal agendas. India’s cricket matches against Pakistan are watched even by non cricket fans because of the significance and history of the rivalry between the two neighbours. In 1940s Spain, underdogs FC Barcelona were the symbol of a rising Catalonian rebellion against the draconian Franco dictatorship represented by Real Madrid. After all, you cannot legally hurt someone you don’t like or agree with, but you can definitely beat them on a grass pitch.

However, dear reader, a possibly even crazier phenomenon is that sports with its violent hatred and disregard for consequences is seen as the more respectable fandom to follow. Cosplaying as a Harry Potter character is weird or cringe, trying to act or dress like your favourite cricketer is totally normal – and in some instances, even cool. It is okay to be sad after your favourite club loses (And believe me, if you’re like me, that’s pretty regular) but stupid to be sad at the death of your favourite character. Perhaps it’s just blind ignorance to the preferences of others. Perhaps, it’s that sports are seen as a fan base that is made up of old uncles sharing a beer watching their matches on TV while books, movies and TV shows are seen as a fan base of teenage girls blogging on Tumblr. It is strange, this smear campaign against popular culture, when the more “respectable”, “acceptable” and normalised fanaticism is the one where stabbing someone or sending death threats is a perfectly acceptable reaction to loss.

In the end, though, sports will still garner their massive followings. PSG, a Paris based football club, reported revenues of 700 million euros last year. The BCCI has a net worth of 18000 crore rupees. The Dallas Cowboys in the NFL are worth 5.7 billion USD. These insane numbers are all due to their respective die-hard fan bases that are willing to do anything to showcase their support – in a mine-is-bigger way against the opposition. Why shouldn’t you support them? It’s good fun, great team building and an awesome feeling to cheer for your team against the opposition. Let’s just not go to war over it.

Read also: The Demise of Football

Image credits: ISRG

Siddharth Kumar

[email protected]

For the first time in two years, Delhi University has decided to revert back to its traditional methods of Sports and ECA quota admissions. Here’s the new (old) procedure.

Traditionally, Delhi University has always offered prospective students a chance to use their extracurricular skills to boost their chances of admission to one of the most sought after universities in the country. This procedure involved a panel that judged a combination of students’ merit certificates and trial performances to determine the grace marks that the student would receive during cutoff season.

Since the arrival of COVID-19 back in 2020, the varsity chose to rely solely on the judgement of merit certificates as the lockdown and social distancing measures made in person trials impossible. However, this year, the varsity has finally brought back offline trials as a way to judge students as well.

Seats will be offered on the basis of combined ECA merit, which will be calculated by taking 25% of the highest program-specific CUET percentage score of all the programmes in which the candidate has applied, and 75% of the highest ECA score obtained from all the categories in which the applicant has been considered,” – Haneet Gandhi, Dean of Admissions

Candidates who have represented the country on an international level, including the Olympics, Commonwealth Games or the World Cup are classified as Category A candidates. These candidates shall be granted admission without sports trials.

Any other candidates under the sports quota will be required to participate in sports trials conducted by the university. There are a total of 28 sports recognised for the supernumerary sports quota and you can find the full list here.


The procedure is straightforward and largely similar to the one for the admissions process through CUET.

  • Visit ugadmission.uod.ac.in and fill the application form.
  • Candidates can apply for a maximum of three sports.
  • Upload self-attested copies of upto a maximum of 3 Merit/Participation Sports Certificates of the preceding five years between 1st April 2017 to 30th June 2022.
  • Candidates are then required to upload the following necessary documents and review the submitted information.
  • Select the programs you wish to apply for. The university recommends that candidates choose the maximum number of programs that they fulfil the program-specific eligibility for.
  • Confirm program specific CUET merit score.
  • Select your program+college combination preferences. Once again, the university recommends that the candidates choose the maximum number of combinations.
  • Confirm preferences.

Not all colleges offer the same amount of seats for all sports. It is advised that candidates check if their preferred college makes reservations for their sports here.

75% of the weightage for admissions will be given to in person trial performances and 25% to a combination of merit certificates.

For full guidelines: see Section 21.2, page 43 of this document.

Read Also: Error 404: Sports Education Not Found

Siddharth Kumar

[email protected]

Remembering and looking back on the career of one of the most important influences to early Indian Football and a celebrity in his own right, Subimal Goswami.

Subimal Goswami, known lovingly by his fans as Chuni Goswami was a first class cricketer for Bengal and played football for India and Mohun Bagan FC. We take a look back at his career in football, where he earned major accolades for himself and the country.

Born in British India on the 15th January 1938, in the Bengal provinces, Chuni Goswami had grown up around football, so it came as no surprise when he joined the Mohun Bagan junior team at the age of 8.  There are many things about the great man that can fill with awe, including his football ability, but the love that he had for Mohun Bagan and his country was beyond description. A one club man, he stayed on at Mohun Bagan from 1946 to 1968, even though it is rumoured that he was approached by Tottenham Hotspur and other foreign clubs at the peak of his career.

In his career with Mohun Bagan FC, where he mostly played as a striker or winger, he has won the Calcutta Football League, Durand Cup, Rovers Cup, and IFA Shield several times in his career. He also cemented himself further in Mohun Bagan legend by being their highest ever scorer in the Calcutta Football League with 145 goals.

 His exploits for the Indian National Team will always be on the echelons of Indian Football History, playing 50 international games and scoring 9 goals, a lot of games for the time when he was a player. He captained India to her first Asian Games Gold Medal in 1962, and two silver medals in the 1964 Asia Cup And the Merdeka Cup.

While his career as a cricketer is not so often talked about, he was an accomplished all rounder for the Bengal team. In his 46 first class matches, he scored 1592 runs including one century and seven fifties and took 47 wickets. He has reached the Ranji trophy final twice, and notably when the West Indies team toured India in 1966, he was part of the combined East and Central Zone team in a friendly, where he took 8 wickets and his team pulled off a shock victory.

After his sad demise on 30th April 2020, we look at his life as a source of inspiration, for fellow sportspersons and all of us in general. His loyalty to his country and his club were commendable, even with temptations of playing abroad. It is this passion for one’s country that makes his legacy shine, and makes those in Bengal, especially supporters of Mohun Bagan FC, now one of the biggest clubs in Indian Football still hold up his posters and sing his names, because he represents more than the first successful Indian footballer, he represents that success can be achieved without having to take the foreign route.

Featured Image Credits: The Hindu

Prabhanu Kumar Das

[email protected]



While the decision to postpone the Olympics posed a headache for many athletes, there were a few silver linings, especially in the Indian camp.

1940. 1944. Since their modern inception in 1896, the Olympic Games have only been cancelled three times in history. This fact helps us gauge the magnitude and significance of the International Olympic Committee’s decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to next year due to the coronavirus induced global standstill. Besides the three cancellations, this is the first ever instance of a postponement. Evidently, we find ourselves in a once-in-a-lifetime situation, though not a very pleasant one.

For athletes who had been preparing their bodies – following strict diets and rigorous training cycles – under a tight structured schedule to ensure they hit peak form in the summer of 2020, the announcement of the postponement, that too with only a few months to go, certainly would have produced cries of disappointment and frustration. In sports, time is paramount. One whole year can make a significant amount of difference. Most athletes are only ever fully at their peak for a very short period of time in their career. And since the Olympics are held after every four years, athletes don’t get many shots at glory. With medals being decided in milliseconds and millimetres, the margin of error is extremely small and not being in peak condition means no medal. 

From a financial point of view, Japanese economists estimated the economic damage of postponing the Games to be more than 600 billion Japanese yen. The postponement shall cost the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) an estimated 1.2 billion American dollars in advertisement revenue. As is evident, a large chunk of stakeholders are at the receiving end of the postponement. However, for some Indian athletes, the decision, even if imposed under unfortunate circumstances, has been a blessing in disguise.

Take for instance, Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra. Chopra is a Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold medallist and a junior world record holder in his sport with his exploits frequently prompting the media in the past two years to label him as the brightest prospect to end India’s drought in athletics at the Olympics. But due to an injury, Chopra had to undergo a surgery on his elbow, forcing him to miss the complete sporting calendar in 2019. He only got back to action in January 2020 and while he did produce a good performance, it’s not possible to be at one’s best a few months after being out of action for a whole year. Thus the postponement couldn’t have come at a better time for Chopra as now he’s been “gifted” with another whole year to recuperate and reach his peak. Chopra told Reuters, “I had found very little time to work on my technique as I was concentrating more on rehab. I didn’t have much time to work on my throws as I started very late. Now I will try to solve the problems that I have noticed.”

Additional Image 1_Neeraj Chopra

Image Credits: India Today

Image Caption: Neeraj Chopra seen mid run-up

In another case not largely different from Chopra’s situation, Jinson Johnson, a middle-distance runner and an Asian Games gold medallist, suffered an Achilles tendon injury in 2019 and was still under recuperation at the start of 2020, in a race against time to recover, qualify and compete in the Olympics. “Earlier, the qualification was going to end in June. So I tried to rush through my rehab a little. It was a situation where I had to have enough rehab time and have enough track time. There was a worry that I wouldn’t get enough rehab time,” said Johnson in an interview with The Indian Express. But with the postponement, he receives opportunity to get back into perfect shape and plan his way back into contention next year.

Additional Image 2_Jinson Johnson

Image Credits: India Today

Image Caption: Jinson Johnson after breaking the national 1500m record

India’s medal count has been consistently dismal, with the highest tally till date being only six (2012 London Olympics). The country sent a contingent of over a hundred athletes to the 2016 Rio Olympics and returned with only two medals. To give a fair idea of the disparity, Georgia, a country with a population barely touching 3 million, which is five times less than that of Delhi, returned from the same Olympics with 11 medals. 

Indian athletes certainly leave a lot to be desired with their performances. While it would be wrong to say that they don’t work hard, they do tend to come up short against their foreign counterparts for various wide-ranging reasons, from lack of finances for purchasing world-class training equipment to the rigorous military grade preparations of their opponents. Many are already at a disadvantage before the competition even starts. The postponement shall surely give the athletes in the Indian camp more time to train better and plot and plan their way to the podium.

Fouaad Mirza, equestrian and an Asian Games silver medallist, told the Press Trust Of India that the postponement was a “blessing in disguise” as it gives him and his horse “more time for some much-needed preparations”. 


“From a practical point of view, India were surely the underdogs. No one really expected us to pose any serious challenges, except in some events where veterans were scheduled to participate. And true, this would just have been another Olympics and another dismal show. But now it’s not really a “normal” edition. The event has been pushed back by a year and all plans of competitors have gone haywire. Under such abnormal and unusual circumstances, I would say we have an outside chance to strike the pot of gold.” opined a University Of Delhi student, on the condition of anonymity.

It’s good to bear a competitive spirit, but while being at it, we should keep in mind the sombre atmosphere prevalent across the world currently and not forget the actual reason which forced the postponement of the Olympics in the first place. Whether or not the postponement was a blessing in disguise for the Indian Olympic camp shall only be fully ascertained after the event happens next year. Till then, we can only hope that the pandemic doesn’t push the Tokyo Olympics further back, into oblivion.

Araba Kongbam

[email protected]

Feature Image Credits: Outlook India



COVID-19 pandemic forces cancellation of sporting events across the world, leaving umpteen ongoing and scheduled tournaments in the lurch.

ICC World Cup 2011 highlights. Vivo Indian Premiere League (IPL) Final 2016 highlights. French Open 2017 highlights. English Premier League 2014-15 highlights. As I shift to and sift through the sports channels on the idiot box looking for some respite from the gloomy COVID-19 coverage, the pandemic still doesn’t fail to make its presence felt. With the postponement of all ongoing sports events, sports broadcasters have nothing to broadcast “live”, and have instead been forced to delve deep into their archives, repeatedly broadcasting recordings and highlights of past tournaments and matches on their channels.

Disseminating rapidly across countries and continents at breakneck speed, and causing thousands of deaths, the 2019 coronavirus pandemic, also known as COVID-19, has brought the globe to a standstill. To limit further damage, there has been a worldwide call for social distancing measures. With sporting events attracting thousands of spectators, and also involving repeated physical contact between participants, their postponement was imminent and necessary.

This coronavirus-induced sports ban claimed its most high-profile “casualty” when the International Olympic Committee announced the postponement of the much-awaited 2020 Tokyo Olympics until 2021. The magnitude of this decision can be gauged by the fact that the Olympics have never once been postponed in history since its modern inception in 1896, though the Games were cancelled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 owing to World War I and II. The postponement shall undoubtedly lead to multifarious organisational, logistical and financial hurdles for the organisers while also complicating the situation for athletes who’d been training hard for months for their events. Though before the decision, in an online poll conducted by The Athletics Association labour group, involving over 4000 track and field athletes, 78 percent voted in favour of postponement of the Games.

Football has been badly affected, with all national leagues like the English Premier League and Bundesliga, regional tournaments like the UEFA Champions League and AFC Champions League, and international tournaments like the Euro 2020 and Copa America 2020 being postponed. Until a few weeks ago, matches were still being held, albeit in empty stadiums, but as the disease began to spread swiftly, total postponement turned unavoidable. “I miss live football so much that now I have started watching simulation games on FIFA 20”, laments Akshat Jha, a football fan and a law student, referring to the FIFA 20 video game.

Apart from the agony faced by fans, the football ban has been a cause of great financial concern for clubs and players, since a large chunk of the clubs’ revenue is earned through stadium tickets and television broadcasts of their matches. Several clubs have announced pay cuts. Even rich clubs like Barcelona and Juventus have been forced to announce reductions in salary for their players and staff. FIFA reportedly plans to create an emergency fund for clubs facing a monetary crisis.

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the global governing body for tennis has suspended the men’s and women’s tennis calendars until June 7, thus leading to the cancelling or postponing of several ATP and WTA tournaments. The historic French Open scheduled to be held in May has been postponed to September while the Grand Slam which comes after it, the Wimbledon, also faces an extremely high probability of being cancelled.

While cricket didn’t have any major international tournaments in the next few months, many bilateral series scheduled to be held in the next two months had to be postponed. The last two remaining ODI matches of the series between India and South Africa, which were earlier planned to be held behind closed doors were ultimately postponed indefinitely. The 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) which was scheduled to start in March was postponed until April 15, with a high chance of it being postponed further, or even cancelled.

Motor racing events have also been affected, with all Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR and MotoGP races being postponed. The Formula 1 calendar was scheduled to start with the Australian Grand Prix, but the race had to be cancelled only a few days before its commencement after a member of the Mclaren racing team tested positive for the disease. Subsequently, 5 Grand Prix races have been postponed while the Monaco Grand Prix was cancelled. The Formula 1 calendar is scheduled to commence in July while MotoGP has set the date as early as May 3.

Four of the biggest sporting leagues in the United States of America, involving four different sports, the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL), all having a global fan base, have been suspended. The NBA suspended its matches from March 12 after two Utah Jazz players, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert tested positive for the disease. Celebrity NBA player Kevin Durant also tested positive for the disease. “Everyone is careful, take care of yourself and quarantine, we are going to get through this.”, Durant said in a public statement. The NBA was criticised for having waited too long to suspend their calendar, which has resulted in it having the most number of coronavirus positive players out of the four leagues.

Other major events which faced the brunt of the pandemic and had to be postponed include the Thomas and Uber Cup finals for badminton, the World Snooker Championships, the iconic London and Boston marathons, the World Table Tennis Championships, the Arctic Winter Games and the ISSF Shooting World Cup amongst others. Such a widespread curtailment of global sports has never occurred in the last few decades since World War II.

“The ramifications of cancelling or postponing play are wide-ranging, from mundane considerations about the competition to potentially serious financial consequences for athletes, teams, leagues and organizations, and the tens of thousands of people who work at sporting events,” wrote New York Times.

With the pandemic still going strong in many parts of the world, it is not yet possible to specifically ascertain the day that sporting events shall commence. Even if the pandemic is put under control, it might take several months before sporting events are given the green signal. Nevertheless, the world has come together to combat the disease, especially doctors and nurses, and the show shall certainly commence someday.

Featured Image Credits: Al Jazeera


Araba Kongbam

[email protected]


Decoding the immense football following in India for Clubs which are hundreds of kilometres away and why we ardently support these Clubs.

Football, has been given the name of a global sport, but why is that so? Why do we sitting on the other side of the world follow European teams so fervently, staying awake till 2 A.M to watch a game of football, buying jerseys of teams that we have never seen live? The most basic reasoning behind it is that football itself is an extremely simple sport that just requires a ball and some people.

Talking about how friendships and bonds are made over the sport, Samaksh, a second-year student from Delhi College of Arts and Commerce said, “Rather than attending classes we take out a day or two in a week and then go play football and just hang out after and all of my friends come together and play. It can get very competitive and angry on the field but once the game ends, we are friends again.”

When asked about supporting European Clubs, he said that it came down to the quality, as you could see the best players take the field.” Once you see one player or club and start supporting them, you slowly get invested in it, it’s like being part of a global family where no one judges you and you are united by this one club you love.”

Does this mean that Indian football does not have the same drama as European Clubs? According to Babil, a third-year student at Jadavpur University, this is not the case. He said,  “When one comes from Kolkata, the idea that Indian football isn’t as compelling is immediately dispelled when you see the fierce rivalry between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal FC. While supporting European Clubs is a trend, we should not forget to support our teams, especially in Bengal which has a prevalent football culture.”

While there is nothing wrong with loving a foreign club and being fervent supporters as the quality and accessibility are much better. We should not forget to support Football in our domestic level through the ISL and the I league as it is only with the support that we can hope to bring up Indian footballing standards and talent to those that we watch and adore in the west.


Featured Image Credits: New Indian Express


Prabhanu Kumar Das

[email protected]





With the Indian cricket team having dominated the sport for the last few decades, cricket enjoys a huge audience in the country. But obsession with one entity often leads to the negligence of other entities.

“Why is Connaught Place so empty today? It’s Sunday.” “India are playing Pakistan today. Everyone’s at home.” – overheard while strolling in the Inner Circle last year during the Cricket World Cup.

Players being worshipped as gods, thousands turning up to watch matches, millions across the country watching on television, crackers being burst after wins, effigies and posters being burnt after losses, cricket has surpassed the definition of a mere “game” or a “sport” in the country, cutting across caste and creed and rising to become a significant part of Indian culture. “Everyone wants a piece of them, to touch them, shake their hands, be seen with them, and introduce their kids to them”, is how ex-national team coach John Wright describes the Indian public’s adoration for its cricketers in his book Indian Summers.

With the sport wielding a great deal of power in the country, cricket has become a magnet for money. An enormous amount of money is exchanged between players and brands in the form of sponsorships and endorsements. Companies are ready to part with millions in order to sponsor tournaments and bilateral series’. Vivo bought the title sponsorship of the glamorous Indian Premier League for a whopping 2200 crore rupees. The powerful governing body of Indian cricket, the Board Of Control Of Cricket In India (BCCI) alone is worth in excess of 13000 crore rupees, a huge chunk of it coming from match broadcasting rights.

Pockets filled with money, the BCCI has left no stone unturned in setting up a thriving Indian cricket system, with the organisational structure going down to the grassroots. Thus there is no dearth of talent, and the country’s junior teams produce talented match winners every year. Cricket’s dominance in India has led to the dominance of India in cricket. Both are inter-related and sometimes, gains in the latter also lead to gains in the former.

Though it would be wrong to opine that other sports have a negligible presence across the nation – the country has produced numerous other successful sportspersons in a diverse range of sporting fields in its history – no other sport comes close in terms of the viewership and financial support that cricket enjoys in India. Football is popular in the country, but the majority of viewers tune in to watch European football and not Indian football. Most domestic league matches are played in near-empty stadiums and the national team languishes at 108th in the world rankings.

India’s dismal showings at the Olympics, with a tally of only 2 medals at the 2016 Rio Games, despite being the second most populated country in the world, is a proof of the considerable disparity between cricket and other sports in the country. Hockey, the national game, a sport in which the country tasted a significant amount of success in the last century, has dwindled greatly in popularity, with the national team not having won an Olympic medal since 1980. Sports like tennis, badminton, wrestling, shooting, chess, boxing are popular in many parts of the country but do not enjoy the mass pan-India viewership of cricket. “I have observed that a newspaper usually devotes two whole pages to cricket coverage while other sports are given half a page at the most”, said Urnavo Chakrabarty, a University Of Delhi student and a state level athlete.

Infrastructure significantly affects the progress of a sport. A sport which doesn’t enjoy mass viewership often lacks financial resources, which leads to limited infrastructure and equipment. Raw talent or potential is not enough to compete at the international level and good infrastructure, equipment and coaches are necessary to harvest this potential. As with cricket, the popularity of a sport in a country and the country’s performance in that particular sport are inter-related. The more popular a sport, the more the amount of revenue generated. Money is needed to bolster the cash strapped sports organizations in the country. And going vice versa, continued successes in a sport will assuredly boost its popularity.

There have been numerous initiatives to promote other sports in the country with the conception of franchise leagues, similar to the IPL model, and though many did not pan out successfully, some like the Pro Kabaddi League and the Indian Super League have garnered considerable – if not mass –  popularity and are a step in the right direction.

The obsession of the country’s public with cricket is not to be seen in a negative light, but this obsession should not act as a detriment to other sports. Other sports are equally interesting if advertised properly and if cricket can enjoy mass support and success, so can any other sport.

It would be a refreshing change to enquire about the emptiness of Connaught Place on a Sunday, and be told that it’s because the Indian hockey team is playing an Olympic final.

Featured Image Credits – ESPN CricInfo

Araba Kongbam

[email protected]

The Hiking Club, St. Stephen’s College organised its 15th National Climbing Competition, from 31st January to 2nd February 2020. The event was a ravishing success with participation in varied categories like lead and speed climbing, between various age groups.

The Adventure Club of St. Stephen’s College, called The Hiking Club, organised its 15th National Climbing Competition. The event commenced on 31stJanuary and went on to 2ndFebruary 2020.  The event was incentivised with prizes worth Rs. 60,000, making the gymnasium of the college echo with loud cheers and hoots.

The National Climbing Competition is an annual event, which awards the player who can climb the set distance in the shortest time. This year’s edition of the Annual Competition was adjudged by Mr Rohit Solanki and Mr Chandan Kumar.

Participants from all over Delhi put on their competitive shoes while eyeing the prizes up for grabs. All participants were full of enthusiasm and eagerly waited for their turns. The results of the competitions were announced on 1stFebruary and 2ndFebruary, and they are:

In the ‘Under 16 Boys Speed’ category, Sachin Saroj bagged the first position, Manujee in the second position and Kabir won the third position.

In the ‘Under 16 Girls Speed’ category, Arshpreet Kaur emerged as the winner, and Simran Kaur and Nandini Dhir came second and third respectively.

For the ‘Open Women Speed’ category, Shivpreet Pannu got the first place, Shivani Charak and Siya Negi, emerging at the second and third place, repectively.

For the ‘Open Men Speed’, Inder Singh was declared the winner, and Bhuvnesh won the second place, while Sarvan bagged the third place.

For the ‘Under 16 Boys Lead’ category, Sachin Saroj again bagged the first place. Manujee and Vansh Bhardwaj bagged the second and third position respectively.

For the ‘Under 16 Girls Lead’ Category, Arshpreet Kaur won the first place, and Nandini Dhir came second, followed by Simran Kaur at the third place.

In the ‘Open Men Lead’ category, Sachin Saroj emerged as the winner, followed by Abhishek Mehta in the second position and Inder Singh in the third place. In the ‘Open Women Lead’ category, Shivpreet Pannu bagged the first place, followed by Shivani Charak and Siya Negi at the second and third positions.


Feature image credits- Gyanarjun Saroj for DU Beat

Suhani Malhotra

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