KOCHI: The wait is almost over and Kerala Blasters will play their first match of the new Indian Super League season on October 20.
Jersey sales are set to pick up, there is going to be a jostling for tickets, and already, social media is buzzing with excitement about the new coach and the players.
These are good times for the team as they are showered with words of encouragement and love.
But social media can also turn into a medium for abuse and bullying which was witnessed last year when veteran Keralite footballer C K Vineeth was subjected to cyber abuse, which led the player to file a police complaint against a KBFC fan group.
Vineeth received massive support from other footballers - including many Malayalee players.
“Almost all Malayalee players who have clicked for the team have faced abuse on social media and that is what Vineeth chettan had spoken out against,” Kerala Blasters player K Prasanth who has been with the club since 2016 said during a recent interaction.
Last season, David James who was the coach then, and the players were subjected to severe criticism due to their form on the pitch.
Prasanth suggested that the players are professionals and are ready to accept criticism. What bothers them is the abuse that they face in the name of criticism.
“In our state, no matter who the players is, if you play well then people will tell you that you did well. If you played bad then people will tell you that you played badly. Personally, people can say the same about me. If I didn’t play well, then fans can voice their opinion about my game. I can accept that. But no one can accept abuse that targets your family, and the players will react to that. Players don’t have any issues with comments about their game. But if you hurl abuses about one’s father or mother, then that cannot be accepted,” he said.
In a new-look team, Prasanth is one of the senior members of the squad but he admitted that he too has faced abuse on social media platforms.
On a personal level, the winger hopes to have a good season since he is into the final year of his contract with the Blasters.
“I’ve had some injury problems last season but now I’m back and I have to perform this season. The coach and the team management might have found something in me to keep me. I want to make a good impression,” said Prasanth.
The young footballer would hope this season, the fans get behind him, and the team, and keep their criticisms constructive and not make it vitriolic and vile abuse.
Kerala Blasters take on ATK in the first match of the new ISL season.