Football has always been the passion of Malappuram district of Kerala. Though Kolkata is known as “ Mecca of Indian football”, According to the football frenzy fans of Malappuram, they deserve the tag than Kolkata.
Whenever a football tournament or championship starts across the globe, the first banners and cut out praising the players would invariably come up in the district.
The district has been in a festival mood after the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament season 2016 kicked off last month. However, a few football lovers from the district are not happy after the 29th October match between Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters FC in which Chennaiyin coach Materazzi involved in a scuffle between two players from both the teams. Materazzi has received a one-match suspension against Mumbai City FC for the ‘misconduct’.
But these Kerala Blaster FC fans are not happy with that. They have decided to send a strong and symbolic message to the player who had involved in the infamous fight with iconic French player Zinedine Zidane during the final match of 2006 World Cup. In a slip between cup and lip, France had lost in the final match after Zidane sent off after head-butting the Italian player for provoking him by insulting his sister.
These youngsters have decided to bring Zidane back to the context as part of a protest against Materazzi. The group has produced 35,000 Zidane masks to be distributed among Kerala Blasters fans during next south Indian derby against Chennaiyin on 12 November in Kochi.
Two ardent Kerala Blasters fans from Perinthalmanna of Malappuram, Abdul Hadhi and Asheem, are the masterminds of the unique protest. Asheem told SouthLive that they decided to go for such a protest to express their anger against Materazzi.
What we are planning is to send a strong message to the Chennaiyin coach who involved in a scuffle between two players. He had also been very rude during the match. We want to protest against the the method of violence peacefullyAsheem
Hadhi meanwhile said that they selected Zidane for the mask to remind Materazzi of the incident that happened in 2006
I am sure everyone remembers the incident that happened in the World Cup final in 2006. He provoked Zidane and made him head-butting him thus getting a red card. I suspect he is planning to apply the same idea against Kerala Blasters’ players as well. We want to expose his tactic and promote the good footballAbdul Hadhi
Hadhi and Asheem, who are cousin brothers as well, said that they are really excited after getting a huge response from multiple corners of the state. “We already received booking for 15,000 masks just after we made the news out on social media. We hope all 35,000 masks will be sold out before the match gets started,” Asheem said.
Many Kerala blasters’ fans have come forward supporting the cause on social media.
I am eagerly looking forward to the match and very excited about the masks. Being a fan of France and Zinedine Zidane, it is double happiness for meSirajudheen CP , a Kerala Blasters’ fan
Meanwhile, along with supports, the organisers are equally getting criticism from the fans of Chennaiyin FC.
“We have so far received many calls from Tamil Nadu blaming us. Some even threatened to thrash us if we go ahead with the protest. But, we won't step back from it since it is peaceful and morale-driven,” Asheem told SothLive.
Though the world football, especially European football witnessed to different kinds of protest, this would be the first time in the history Indian football a match witnessing to such a protest.