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The Raphael Augusto banner: Not the first, not even the worst

BENGALURU FC defeated Chennaiyin FC in the latest round of matches in the Hero Indian Super League. The score line read 3-0 in BFC’s favour. There was nothing controversial on the pitch but something done on the stands left a sour taste for a handful of those involved.

Both teams had key players but the spotlight suddenly was on Bengaluru FC player Raphael Augusto, who played two seasons for Chennaiyin FC. A huge noticeable banner was displayed by the Chennaiyin FC supporters directed towards Augusto.

Banners, tifos, chants and jingles in a sporting event, are among pieces of expressing emotions by the supporters. The tone could range from mild to any extreme. But only when the line of dignity is breached, they arises a need for restrain.

The Raphael Augusto banner: Not the first, not even the worst
Picture credit: Hero ISL website

India has seen the rise of fan culture with a sense of identity off lately. Fans have gone past the era of just cheering. From giving their groups a name, offline and online build up leading up to games to creating line of merchandise for their fan groups, Indian football fan culture has gone up many notches. The designated away fan’s stand is in the support and acknowledgement of the travelling fans.

The fan culture could only grow many folds, if sowed with the seeds of healthy rivalries and club- fan bonding.

A club seeks supporters to build an eternal connection with the club values while fans expect an entertaining showing on the pitch. Supporter’s emotions pour out in various measures when the performance on the pitch takes a consistent dip or not at par with their expectations. 

Referees, coaches, players, match officials all bear the ire when the unsatisfied fan vents out. This certainly is not uncommon in any sport. At times, abuses from the fans have even lead to physical confrontations between players and fans.

Very recently one of the national football team supporters groups, expressed their opinion on the relegation of I-League to the second tier and have reported incidents of manhandling by security officials.

Bengaluru FC fans themselves were part of a bit of untasteful incident a while back.

Jog back a little earlier when Mumbai FC played their last season in the I-League. Yellow Brigade, the fan group, create an uproar about the ill treatment of players by the then coach Santosh Kashyap by their slogans, chants, banners. Fans were triggered with the comments of the then coach and started a campaign to have the coach sacked. Yes, one of the fan-made banners had a similar snake reference like in the Raphael Augusto incident.

Forming and voicing opinion in creative gestures, is part of the journey of fan groups. Curbing it will lead to gagging the expressive spirit that the Indian football circuit has seen over a few years.

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