A statement which Virat Kohli said without thinking too much has sparked a major controversy. A video of Virat was shared on Twitter where he asked Indian cricket fans, who liked foreign players more than their own nation's cricketers to live somewhere else and leave India.
Virat even clarified everything but it came at the eleventh hour. The damage was done already. People have started making opinions against him.
Even companies associated with Kohli have divided themselves. Managing director of Puma in India, Abhishek Ganguly spoke up on the issue and said, “The issue is being blown out of proportion. Anyone who has seen the entire video on Virat’s fan app will know that he was speaking in jest in a section called Virat responds to mean tweets."
Abhishek also spoke about Kohli's love and respect for AB de Villiers, the former South African star batsman. “People know the respect Kohli has for cricketers from across the world. AB de Villiers, for example, is not just a great buddy of his but as per him, the most skilled cricketer,” he said.
The Smaaash Entertainment promoter Shripal Morakhia calls it an emotional outburst by the Indian skipper. “It was an emotional outburst, which can happen. Virat has proved himself in all forms of cricket and he should not be judged like the way he is being,” he said.
Despite some support, there were companies who didn't approve Virat's statement. “We are living in the age of social media and he being a youth icon and making statements like he did puts our brand in a bad light too,” said a senior official of a beverage brand that Kohli endorses.
An official from another brand associated with Kohli said, “This was unexpected of Virat. Any statement like this by a responsible brand ambassador can also drag the brand into question - unfortunately, it does get linked to brands he is directly associated with."
Virat has a good influence in the market and no surprise he endorses around 18 global and Indian brands which include Uber, Puma, UB Group's Royal Challenge energy drink, Manyavar, Smaash, Audi cars and few more.
Brand experts said Kohli’s comment had crossed accepted lines. “Nationalist jingoism in sport is not acceptable and Kohli will need to make amends for this in some way. Jingoism is okay in politics, but not in the world of sport,” said brand consultant Harish Bijoor.
“Someone of Kohli’s stature has to be careful of everything he says in public domain. It’s something that won’t be ignored or overlooked in today’s age of social media. However, unless such statements are made repeatedly, the person in question should not be judged,” said social commentator Santosh Desai.