A group of people from the north east can be seen cringing in their seats, among them three women who are completely shocked at what was happening in front of them. A group of men, many in blue were gathered facing them. While one man can be seen dancing with a flag, the camera pans and in focus is another man, also dancing. His body language clearly obscene, he can be seen targeting a woman sitting in front of him. Even as a man sitting next to the woman tries to stop him, he makes suggestive gestures at her.
This was the scene that played out in the Jawaharlal Nehru indoor stadium in Chennai on Thursday evening, where the Indian Super League match between Chennayin FC and NorthEast United FC was underway.
As the man continues to gesture obscenely, the crowd gathered around them simply gawked in amusement. At one point, when the harasser turns his back to her, the woman can be seen pushing him away and gesturing to him to move away from her. But that only incites him to mock her further, as her friends try their best to keep him away from her.
The video which was first shared on a Facebook page called Indian Football Team- For World CUP has now become a talking point on fan pages associated with both Chennayin FC and NorthEast United FC, which were the two teams playing against each other when the incident reportedly occurred.
Actor John Abraham who owns the NorthEast United team has termed the incident deeply disturbing and says in a post on his team's official page: "To the girl who was victimized by these insensitive and thoughtless people, we stand with you and you'll never feel alone as you must've felt in that moment. I will personally meet you and make sure you are ok."
He further addresses the 'fans' who troubled the victims and called them 'Fake'. "I know that Abhishek or myself would never condone this behaviour from our own true fans. I will find you and make sure you are punished and apologise for your behaviour," he warns.
Many fans have called out the harassment, terming it racial, and a Facebook page called B-Stand Blues - Chennaiyin FC Fan Club, has apologised for the shameful incident.
"We do not stand for what happened yesterday with some of our brothers and sisters wearing NorthEast United colours. And we are high apologetic about it. We doesn't mean B Stand Blues alone, but also Chennaiyin FC Fans and the whole Chennaiyin football fandom. Racism and abuses have no place in the beautiful game. We implore the stadium security team to review the footage, hand stadium bans to the guilty and ensure these incidents doesn't happen again. It was a shameful night for us, but it is in such moments that you realize the sport in our country has a long road ahead. What happened last night in Chennai, what keeps happening throughout our footballing landscape - we as fans of Indian football need to come together and spread the message to kick racism out of football. Highlander Brigade - NorthEast United FC, we stand with you," read the post. (sic)
While TNM cannot vouch for the authenticity of the video, comments under the post confirm that the incident took place.
"I was there in d ground yesterday... Unfortunatly i was in d upper side and ds incident is d in d down side... Not only in d ground, in d train also d local peoples were irritating d north people, not only girls, against all of d north east people, d guys were helpless and they cant do anything... And one more think is that yesterday once the match started, lpts of local people enter to d gallery wit out any tickets," read a comment under the video.
Several others from Chennai apologised for the behaviour of the men seen in the video. Many said that this is not how Chennai fans should behave, and condemned the incident.
dir="ltr" lang="en">Statement: NEUFC stands by the the passionate supporters who faced untoward incident at the Marina Arena in Chennai last night. Here is a brief statement from our owner John Abraham. #Highlanders we are with you. #8States1United pic.twitter.com/ceej8iVvG3â€” NorthEast United FC (@NEUtdFC) November 24, 2017