Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri on Thursday said racism is rooted in ignorance, saying it does not make sense to look down on anyone on the basis of their colour, caste or religion.
Asked about his thoughts on incidents of racism, Chhetri said, “It hurts me like anyone else. It is bad. But most of time, it is due to ignorance, it is because of not knowing.
“If you catch a person who is talking these things (racist remarks) you will find he is ignorant and not knowing the things,” Chhetri said during a Live Chat on Indian football team Facebook page.
“You are looking down somebody on the basis of colour or caste or religion, it does not make any sense. There is no logic or truth in that, it should not be done,” he added.
Chhetri was speaking on the raging issue that has triggered violent protests across the world following African-American George Floyd’s death in the US. Several international cricketers like the West Indies duo of former World Cup-winning captain Darren Sammy and star batsman Chris Gayle have come forward and alleged racial abuse after Floyd’s death at the hands of a white police officer.
Sammy, while commenting on the protests, had spoken about being called ‘Kalu’ — a derogatory word to describe black people — while playing in the Indian Premier League.
Chhetri said said if more people are made aware and educated about the issue, the incidents of abuse will also go down.
‘Enjoying my football, not going away anytime soon’
It has been 15 years since his international debut in 2005 – he had scored on his debut in a 1-1 draw against Pakistan – but Chhetri said retirement is not on his mind.
“I am enjoying my football and I am not going away anytime soon,” said the 35-year-old, indicating that he will keep on playing for another three to four years.
Teased by national team-mate Sandesh Jhingan to be prepared for the 2026 World Cup, Chhetri said, “I don’t know about 2026 World Cup. But I would love to see Anirudh Thapa sending a cross to Jhingan and I would love to watch it from the stands.”
(With PTI inputs)