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Fact Check: Did Sunil Chhetri speak on Manipur after SAFF final?

A leading Hindi newspaper attributed a fictional quote to Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri.

Fact Check: Did Sunil Chhetri speak on Manipur after SAFF final?

India forward Sunil Chhetri will retire from international football on June 6 after India's World Cup qualifier against Kuwait at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. (FILE PHOTO: AIFF)


Pritish Raj

Updated: 6 July 2023 5:31 AM GMT

The flipside of attention being heaped on the otherwise neglected Indian football team is that there is often an escalation of misinformation on these occasions. Remember how the Indian U17 team miraculously 'beat Italy' a few years ago?

India's SAFF Championship victory this week has created a sense of temporary euphoria, leading to some similar fictional tales on social media.

On Wednesday, while India was celebrating Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's saves and the beautiful team goal by Lallianzualla Chhangte, Sahal Abdul Samad and Sunil Chhetri, there was one piece of fiction also being celebrated - an imaginary quote by captain Chhetri on the ongoing situation in Manipur.

One of the largest Hindi dailies, Hindustan, was among publications who reported that Chhetri had called for peace in Manipur after the SAFF final. "This win is dedicated to my people in Manipur, Manipur loves football, and it pains me to see what’s happening there; I hope Manipur unitedly celebrates this win," a prominent headline said.

Live Hindustan e-paper carrying the fake quote attributed to Sunil Chhetri.

Given the delicate situation in Manipur, a senior figure such as Chhetri speaking out on the need for attention became a talking point on social media too.

However, as often has been the case in Indian football, there was not one element of truth to the news.

Chhetri did not speak at the press conference after the SAFF title, let alone speak on Manipur. No journalist has come forward in individual capacity either to claim that Chhetri spoke on the matter.

Looking at time stamps, it can be assumed that the source of this misinformation was a now-deleted tweet by a certain user called Roshan Kumar Rai.

Jeakson Singh does speak about Manipur

The line attributed to Sunil Chhetri was pure fiction, but there was in fact a very visible statement made by a different player - Jeakson Singh, who himself hails from the violence-inflicted state.

He carried a flag known as the Flag of Kangleipak or Salai Taret Flag, a Meitei flag, during the victory ceremony. While the gesture from the youngster created an uproar on social media, Jeakson said he only wanted to bring attention to what is happening in his home state.

"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," the midfielder tweeted.

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