Delhi Crowd Taunted, Insulted Us: Pak Hockey Players

Delhi Crowd Taunted, Insulted Us: Pak Hockey Players
Two senior members of the Pakistan hockey team Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt today added their voices to the ongoing debate on abusive crowd behaviours in Delhi Commonwealth Games but insisted it was no excuse for their poor show in the crucial matches.

It was the second time this year that Pakistan had failed to perform well on Indian soil after finishing on a measly 12th position in the World Cup earlier this year.

In the Delhi Games, Pakistan were beaten by the hosts and then they also lost the play-off match for the fifth place.

"We are not making excuses for our performances. We played badly, but we were disappointed and sad over the way some sections of the Indian crowd behaved with us during the matches," Abbasi told PTI.

"They were constantly taunting us, insulting us and giving a political colour to the match. We never expected the Indians to support us but we also never expected them to be so hard on us," the forward added.

He said he had played in India before and there was no doubt that after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the behaviour of Indian crowds had changed for the worse.

"A few of them were abusive but mostly they taunted us, jeered us and insulted us and it put a lot of pressure on the players," he said.

Butt, another experienced forward, said he was saddened by the fact that when Pakistan played India, the crowds kept on reminding the players about Kargil war and Mumbai attacks.

"What was sad was that some sections of the crowd kept on telling their team to settle scores for the Kargil and Mumbai incidents. They made the match into a political issue which is wrong as it is only sports," Butt said.

He said in some parts of the Indian media also there was negativity about the Pakistan team. "One channel advertised the match as a battle for Kargil."

Butt said he had always enjoyed playing in India but after the Mumbai attacks there was a changed attitude.

"I am not saying we lost only because of the crowd behaviour but it did affect us players," he added.

However, Pakistan manager Khawaja Junaid said the crowd's behaviour was no big deal.

"In India you can never expect them to support us. It has always been like this. Some of the players felt this time the behaviour was more hard.

"I didn't hear abusive language. But yes, there were constant taunts and insults directed at us. But it is no excuse for us playing badly. We should have done better," Junaid said.

Earlier, Pakistan Hockey Federation Secretary Asif Bajwa had said that the team was subjected to abuse and insults by the Indian crowd and it was one of the reasons for their poor show in Commonwealth Games.

"It is now more difficult for our players when they play in India and there is more pressure on them because of the treatment they get from the spectators," he said.

Bajwa was manager of the Pakistan team in the World Cup.
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