India international Sandesh Jhingan was on the receiving end of sharp backlash last weekend following his post-match comments after his ATK Mohun Bagan side played out a 2-2 draw with Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League. Jhingan’s comment – aimed at either his Mohun Bagan teammates or his Kerala opposition – was deemed to be sexist and caused quite the stir within social media.
“I have played a match with women, with women,” Jhingan said in a short video taken after the Kerala draw, which was posted on Mohun Bagan’s Instagram page before it was deleted.
The comment – which implies that women footballers are inferior compared to their male counterparts – drew significant backlash and led to angered rival fans storming Jhingan’s Instagram page, some ironically leaving equally sexist comments aimed at his wife.
Jhingan, who last year had played for Croatian top-flight side Sibenik, posted an apology on his Twitter a day after the offending video was deleted, however, his comment still drew some flak until this day.
It was unclear whether the comment was aimed at Jhingan’s Mohun Bagan teammates or his former club Kerala, with the Blasters’ fans interpreting that the sexist comment was aimed at the latter.
In his apology, Jhingan said that the comment was made “in the heat of the moment” and denied that it was aimed at Kerala, with whom he had played for between 2014 and 2020. Kerala retired the number 21 jersey in 2020 to honor Jhingan’s massive contribution towards the club in his six years there.
“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,” Jhingan said in his apology, which the angry Kerala fans had refused to accept.
The Kerala fans insisted that while Jhingan was wrong to make the comparison, many argued that he had insulted the Blasters’ players by comparing them with women.
Others also expressed their disappointment towards Jhingan invoking his female relatives to argue that he always has been respectful of women.
“The same excuse, I have mother, sister. That does not give you a license to say what you said,” tweeted Anirban Chakraborty of the NGO Dream A Dream, “Supporting women’s football does not mean you will use that language. Time and again, we keep forgetting that! Very disappointed!”
There has been no official statement regarding the matter from both the Mohun Bagan management and from the ISL themselves.
Saturday’s match between Mohun Bagan and Kerala ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw with former Melbourne City man Adrian Luna scoring a brace for the latter before Mohun Bagan managed to snatch a point away from the jaws of defeat thanks to Joni Kauko’s last-gasp equalizer. Both sides ended the match with 10 men, following the injury-time dismissals of Mohun Bagan’s Prabir Das and former Johor Darul Ta’zim man Jorge Pereyra Diaz, now playing for Kerala.