Kerala Blasters FC are in trouble after some of the club’s players were reported for keeping their right hand on the heart during the customary rendition of the National Anthem before every Indian Super League (ISL) match.
The gesture of the Kerala Blasters players, similar to what players abroad do, has been considered as an act of disrespect to the National Anthem.
A complaint has been lodged with the Kerala Police about the franchise players “disrespecting the National Anthem” with the gesture. Subsequently, the franchise was sent a letter -- a copy of which is with HT -- on October 31 by the Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Special Branch in Kochi City, warning that action will be taken against the franchise if the players continue to do so.
The letter stated that the “violation” was observed ahead of their October 14 match against Mumbai City FC.
The letter, sent to the CEO of the Kochi-based team, states that when players and player escorts kept their hands on their chest during the National Anthem, the audience at Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium imitated them and kept their hands on the chest.
The letter instructs the franchise to announce through the PA system before every match that everyone in the stadium must “stand in attention” for the National Anthem, as is the protocol.
It is also learnt that at a recent Match Commissioner’s Meeting (MCM), held one day before every ISL match, the team officials were asked to instruct their players to stand in attention during the National Anthem and not put their hands on their heart.
Blasters officials declined to comment on the issue.
Meanwhile, an ISL spokesperson confirmed that a complaint had been filed after the October 14 match between Kerala Blasters FC and Mumbai City FC but added that the organisers have not received any communication from the police or the state government regarding the complaint.
Former Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor, had also been charged in 2008 over a similar incident.
Tharoor, who was exonerated in 2013 by the Ernakulam Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, had reportedly interrupted the singing of the Anthem at a function in Kochi and asked the audience to respect it by placing their hands on their chest as the Americans do.