Vinesh Phogat expressed her disappointment at the lack of support from prominent cricket and sports figures in the ongoing wrestlers’ protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
She questioned if they were intimidated by the system or if there was something suspicious going on behind the scenes. She went on to suggest that perhaps there was an ulterior motive at play, saying, “Unke daal mein bhi kaala hai, yeh maan ke chale hum?”
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“You do come forward to congratulate us when we win something. Even the cricketers tweet when that happens. Abhi kya ho gaya? (What has happened now?) Are you so afraid of the system? Or maybe there’s something fishy going on there too? (Unke daal mein bhi kaala hai, yeh maan ke chale hum?),” she said as quoted by Indian Express.
Phogat said the top athletes in the country don’t necessarily have to take a side, but they could at least express a neutral opinion and advocate for justice for all parties involved. She went on to add that despite cricket being widely celebrated in India, none of the star cricketers have spoken out on the current issue and also top badminton players, athletes, and boxers.
“The entire country worships cricket but not even a single cricketer has spoken up. We aren’t saying that you speak in our favour, but at least put up a neutral message and say there should be justice for whichever party. This is what pains me… Be it cricketers, badminton players, athletics, boxing…” said Phogat as quoted by Indian Express.
She also said while she understood that their apprehension could be linked to their sponsorships and brand deals being affected, it still pained her that they were hesitant to stand in solidarity with protesting wrestlers.
“We don’t know what they are afraid of. I understand that they may be concerned that this could affect their sponsorship and brand endorsement deals. Maybe that’s why they are afraid to associate themselves with athletes who are protesting. But it pains me,” she said.
Since Sunday, top wrestlers of India have been protesting at Jantar Mantar in the Capital to demand an FIR against Brij Bhushan. The protestors include seven female wrestlers, one of whom is a minor. Each of them has filed a separate police complaint against Brij Bhushan, alleging sexual harassment and criminal intimidation.