Wrestler Vinesh Phogat’s “Afraid” Swipe At Cricketers Amid #MeToo Protest

Renowned wrestlers like Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, etc. have taken to the streets, demanding justice over the sexual harassment allegations they have made against the chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). Awaiting action to be taken, the wrestlers have been sleeping on the streets, urging authorities to file an FIR against WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over the ‘Me Too’ allegations that have been made. As clouds of uncertainty continue to loom, Vinesh Phogat has questioned the silence of cricketers and a number of other top Indian sportspersons.

Speaking to the Indian ExpressVinesh launched a scathing attack on the country’s top cricketers, asking why they’ve been silent on the matter when they’ve often taken to social media, commenting on the athletes’ achievements at stages like the Olympics or Commonwealth Games.

“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…”

“It’s not like we don’t have big athletes in our country. There are cricketers… During the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, they showed their support. Don’t we deserve even that much,” she asked.

Vinesh wondered if it’s the sponsorship agreements the cricketers and other sportspersons have that is forcing them to keep quiet or if it’s the ‘system’ that they are afraid of.

“But 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.

“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 my bhi kaala hai, yeh maan ke chale hum?),” she added.

A heartbroken Vinesh said that those who haven’t put a word out on the matter don’t even have a heart.

Log kehte hai wrestlers ka dimaag ghutno my hota hai (People say wrestlers’ mind is not in the right place). But I’ll say our dil (heart), dimeag (mind)… everything is in the right place. Other athletes need to check where their mind is. Dil toh unke paas hai hi nahi(They don’t have a heart),” she said.

The grappler also asked the cricketers and other athletes to not come out supporting them when they win a medal for the country if they can’t support them in these times.

“You put photos, you put brand collaborations… can’t you put one post saying there should be justice for us. That’s all we request,” she said. “If we don’t deserve their support in these times of struggle then, God willing, if we win a medal tomorrow – and we will work very hard for it – don’t come to congratulate us. Don’t say you had faith in our abilities because you didn’t – that’s why you are doubting us now,” she said.

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