ATK Mohun Bagan defender Sandesh Jhingan was at the receiving end of anger from Kerala Blasters fans after a video released by the Kolkatan club on its Instagram story.
In the video, former Blasters player Jhingan is heard to say he has "played a match with women", with the phrase meant in derogatory terms towards his opponents.
A section of the Kerala Blasters fans protested against the comment made by Jhingan after the 2-2 draw between the southerners and the Mariners on Saturday.
What was the controversy about?
Although the video on the Bagan instagram story was later deleted by the club, the clip of the video where Jhingan could be heared uttering, "Aurato ke saath match khel aaya hoon, aurato ke saath" (I have played a match with women, with women) went viral.
While some fans labeled the India international "sexist," others called out the incident as "shameful."
Ladies and gentlemen, presenting to you the vice captain of Indian National Team and the biggest sexist you'll see. " played with girls" what bro girls are that bad? What a shame.— Luci ¹⁴^³⁵ (@RM_madridbabe1) February 20, 2022
How did Sandesh Jhingan respond?
Jhingan took to his Twitter to reply to the criticism, and issued an unconditional apology.
"When you are so driven to win all points for your team, it’s disappointing when you finish with just one. In the heat of the moment, we say a lot of things, and what’s being circulated should be seen in the same perspective," he wrote.
When you are so driven to win all points for your team, it’s disappointing when you finish with just one. In the heat of the moment, we say a lot of things, and what’s being circulated should be seen in the same perspective.— Sandesh Jhingan (@SandeshJhingan) February 20, 2022
"First things first. The comment was not intended towards Kerala Blasters FC. I have always respected every opponent, and I have a lot of friends at the club. I’d never disrespect the club especially when I have given my blood and sweat for them.
"Those who know me personally will tell you that I have always been a huge supporter of Indian women’s team and women in general. Don’t forget that I have a mother, my sisters and my wife, and I’ve always been respectful towards women.
"What you hear is an argument I had with my teammate after the game. What I said was a result of the disappointment for not winning the game. I told my teammate not to make excuses, so anyone taking my comment differently is only doing it to tarnish my name.
"If my comments have hurt anyone, my apologies. It was never intended to create any harm to anyone. Have a good day."
Later, releasing another messsage via a video he posted on his Twitter handle, Jhingan admitted, "What I said in the heat of the game is wrong and I'm truly sorry for it."
He also urged that his family should be spared the hate.
Some of the Kerala Blasters faithful also started a hashtag #BringBack21, urging the club management to bring back the retired number 21 jersey after Jhingan had left the club.
@SandeshJhingan lost our respect. @KeralaBlasters bring back Jersey #21— Manjappada (@kbfc_manjappada) February 20, 2022
Absolute disgrace to all sporting fraternity by disrespecting woman.@atkmohunbaganfc deleteing video can't make a man holy.@IndianFootball@WomensFootieIND@NikhilB1818
Jhingan had been a part of Kerala Blasters since the very first edition of ISL and played 76 matches for the Kochi-based side. He had two years remaining on his contract, yet he left the club after reaching a mutual settlement to join ATK Mohun Bagan in 2020.