One of India’s top footballers has apologised to fans over a sexist comment he made at the end of a match last weekend.
Sandesh Jhingan, 28, was apparently frustrated with his ATK Mohun Bagan teammates after a 2-2 draw with Kerala Blasters and commented that he had “played a match with women”, which led to an immediate avalanche of criticism.
The vice captain of India’s national men’s team was seen making the comment in a short video, shot as he was leaving the ground after the match on Saturday. Reports said the video appeared briefly on Mohun Bagan’s Instagram page before it was deleted.
Users soon flooded Jhingan’s own Instagram with criticism, accusing him of implying women were inferior.
The footballer then took to Twitter to issue a qualified apology, saying he made the comments in the “heat of the moment”.
“If my comments have hurt anyone, my apologies. It was never intended to create any harm to anyone.”
He continued: “What you hear is an argument I had with my teammate after the game. What I said was a result of the disappointment for not winning the game. I told my teammate not to make excuses, so anyone taking my comment differently is only doing it to tarnish my name.
“Those who know me personally will tell you that I have always been a huge supporter of the Indian women’s team and women in general. Don’t forget that I have a mother, my sisters and my wife, and I’ve always been respectful towards women,” he added.
This did not appease his fans or those of Kerala Blasters, many of whom had taken the comments as criticism of Jhingan’s opposition players.
The player clarified that the comment “was not made intended towards Kerala Blasters FC. I have always respected every opponent, and I have a lot of friends at the club. I’d never disrespect the club especially when I have given my blood and sweat for them”.
Jhingan tried to explain that “when you are so driven to win all points for your team, it’s disappointing when you finish with just one. In the heat of the moment, we say a lot of things, and what’s being circulated should be seen in the same perspective.”
Jhingan’s apologies did not land well with netizens, as one user responded: “Shame that this guy is still making ‘I have a woman and sister’ [argument]to justify the misogyny.”
Another wrote: “You are someone who doesn’t have control in the heat of the moment. Don’t be so driven to lose control of your head and mouth!”
Others also criticised his apology.
“How hard is it to say: ‘I realise that the comment I made at heat of the moment was misogynistic and I deeply regret it and apologise to everyone. I will ensure that such behaviour is not repeated’”, one user commented.
Another user said it was a “horrible horrible horrible ‘apology’”. (Source: Independent UK)