Extremist Cricket Fans: Where Anguish spawns Violence

Michael Roberts

The recent outbursts of abuse and riotous act on the cricket grounds at Pallekele and Rangiri when our cricketers were defeated after some poor cricket are significant in the wider scheme of local culture and ethics. Such reactions reveal the reverberations that can be generated by a small body of extremists. It is ironic that some of these very same extremists, some among these abusive fans, would have been among those who indulged in effusive cheering an adulation of the cricket team when they triumphed.

 The India vs Sri Lanka ODI in Pallekele was marred by crowd trouble as Sri Lankan fans threw bottles on the outfield, which stopped play for 30 minutes.(AP)… NOTE: in 1996 a Eden Gardens Calcutta Indian fans reacted in similar fashion when they were losing –to Sri Lanka as it hapens

That is a speculation on my part but a reasonable conjecture.  As conjecture, it is aimed at reflection. When the same individual can swing from one extreme to the other what does it say. That phenomenon reveals an extremist par excellence, a dangerous bloke who swings from one pole to the opposite pole … one who cannot rest in the region of moderation in evaluation or action.

Speculatively, then, I ask: how do such personnel behave in the field of politics? Are they among the thugs who are spurred into action by political demagogues? Are they the spearheads of violence directed at an Ethnic Other for assumed slights or offences real or imagined? Are they the sort of personnel who buy into spurious rumours and take up cudgels by assailing  and burning the supposed menace within their midst?

Were these the type of people, in this instance Sinhalese people, who attacked Tamils during the 1983 July pogrom? Were these among the Muslims and Sinhalese who assailed each other during the Aluthgama riots?

I note here that the violent voice and act around the cricket field was mostly male, though a sprinkling of female fans may have been part of the initial ‘voice’. However, in the wider arena of political stirring and rumour that spark ethnic violence and pogrom emotional female voices are often an integral element in the initial incendiary sparks. In the instance of the anti-Sikh riots of !984 after Indira Gandhi was assassinated, the photographic evidence indicates that the anguish of women waiting outside Teen Murti hospital was among the factors promoting violent vengeance. (I note here that in 1995 I met some of the Indian cameramen who covered the violence).

  Scenes form July 1983

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Kill Any Sikh: The Anti-Sikh Pogrom of 1984 in Delhi in Bhawan Singh’s IMAGES


Filed under accountability, cricket for amity, cultural transmission, landscape wondrous, life stories, meditations, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, riots and pogroms, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, trauma, unusual people, vengeance, world events & processes, zealotry

2 responses to “Extremist Cricket Fans: Where Anguish spawns Violence

  1. Pingback: Reconciliation via Cricket and Charity? The Political Ground is a Waterlogged Minefield | Thuppahi's Blog

  2. Hugh

    The heavy anti Sikh campaign that followed the assasination Of Indira Gandhi however put an end to extreme Sikh nationalism and the demand for Khalistan or a separate state. That was probably due to the fact that most of the leaders of the Khalistan movement were holed up in the Golden Temple in Amritsar where they were all massacred by Indian troops. The unity of India as a nation had been put to the test at various times by the sikhs, and by Assamese, but no real cry for separation from Hyderabad which has a huge Muslim population, or from Tamil Nadu with the largest Tamil population anywhere on the globe.

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