Not quite cricket but dual loyalties could stay | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Not quite cricket but dual loyalties could stay

With the advent of the Indian Premier League cricket’s adaptation of the club/city loyalty concept maybe things are changing, reports Abhishek Hore.

kolkata Updated: May 26, 2008 02:54 IST

His 60 appearances for England notwithstanding, as long as he plies his trade at Stamford Bridge, Frank Lampard's figure at Old Trafford will almost always evoke jeers from Manchester United loyalists.

Despite the abundance of talent, Barcelona's baby-faced genius Lionel Messi is bound to attract boos from Real Madrid fans whenever the Spanish giants lock horns at the Bernabeau.

Hark back to November 2002, Luis Figo found himself at the receiving end with the Catalans singling him out for abuse at the Nou Camp. The sorcerer's first return in a Real jersey turned sour with the referee ordering the players off the pitch after bottles were hurled at Figo.

Ridiculous it may sound to those who are not familiar with the world sport, but in the Champions League, Premier League, La Liga or Serie A, more often than not, the dominant emotion that runs through the fans is an urge to mock at players and supporters of other clubs.

Cut to cricket, emotions run high here too, more so when two established international sides are battling it out, but with the advent of the Indian Premier League cricket’s adaptation of the club/city loyalty concept maybe things are changing.

Exciting, the presence of icons and cheerleaders similarities exist between the two, but at least once a fundamental difference in the players's understanding of fan behaviour has come to the fore.

Those who have watched fans at the Wankhede Stadium jeer at Yuvraj Singh, Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan, would know that the same crowd would cheer for them when the trio don India colours. But when Mohali entered Mumbai's den last week, verbal volleys against them came thick and fast.

A peeved Yuvraj chose to vent his ire at the presentation ceremony. "Booing India players is not good because the same crowd will cheer for us when we next play an international match here." Yuvraj's statement was an indicator that the India vice-captain was yet to match the immunity levels of footballers who ply their trade in Europe and elsewhere.

Though players may find it difficult to understand but what occurred at the Wankhede and M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday bottles being hurled after Bangalore shocked the hosts crowd behaviour then seemed straight out of a football club game.

But then again, while this practice of dual loyalties in football has been prevalent for over a century, it's early days for the IPL. And it might take the players as well as fans some time to understand its dynamics.