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Last Updated: 7th July, 2023 16:50 IST

Manipur footballer Jeakson Singh sports ‘Meitei’ flag at SAFF Championship, stirs a row

First Published: 5th July, 2023 16:13 IST

The fans were bemused over the showcasing of a regional flag in a contest that incorporates the entire country

Indian footballer Jeakson Singh, hailing from Manipur, landed in controversy after the footballer was spotted draped in a multi-coloured ‘Meitei flag’ while receiving his winners’ medal following India’s historic victory over Kuwait in the 2023 SAFF Championship final on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old midfielder from Manipur’s Thoubal district was seen draped in the flag of Kangleipak (Salai Taret flag), a seven-coloured flag representing the seven clan dynasties of the Meitei ethnicity of Ancient Manipur, while receiving his medal.

However, this act by the footballer was not welcomed by all and received mixed reactions from the netizens.

The fans were bemused over the showcasing of a regional flag in a contest that incorporates the entire country.

Many of the netizens called out the footballer and deemed him ‘unprofessional’ and ‘anti-national.

Amid the uproar on social media, Jeakson issued an apology, saying his intention was not to hurt anyone’s sentiments.

“Dear Fans, By celebrating in the flag, I did not want to hurt the sentiments of anyone. I intended to bring notice to the issues that my home state, Manipur, is facing currently. This win tonight is dedicated to all the Indians,” Jeakson wrote on Twitter.

Terming Jeakson’s action as a political statement, one user wrote, “Jeakson Singh making a political statement during the celebration of India’s SAFF win tonight with Salai Taret flag in his shoulder. While we congratulate the team for the win, such action is unprofessional for a footballer representing the nation.”

Another user wrote, “What is Mr Jeakson Singh trying to prove with the METEI SALAI TERET flag? Devaluing OUR NATIONAL FLAG!! SHAME!!”

Another user calling the act as a symbol of anti-nationalism wrote, “Playing for India and wearing Meitei secessionist Flag begs the question of loyalty of Jeakson Singh to the Indian Nation. The entire stadium abounds with the national flag and he chose to drap himself in this anti-national symbol??”

“Jeakson Singh Meitei’s gesture at #SAIChampionship2023 is not justifiable A footballer Mr Jeakson Singh Thounaojam from Manipur celebrating India’s SAFF Cup Victory with the “Salai Taret” flag wrapped around his body is inexcusable and inexplicable. This flag cannot represent Peace, as it is commonly used by a Radical Meitei groups-ArambaiTengol and Meitei Leepun during the ongoing #ManipurViolence,” wrote an user.

Manipur has been witnessing violent clashes between two ethnic groups since May 3.
Former India captain and star footballer Bhaichung Bhutia refused to comment on the act and termed it as Jeakson’s personal choice.
Bhaichung Bhutia has appealed for peace in Manipur and requested both communities to sort out their differences.

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