Northeast United FC fans face racial abuse by East Bengal FC fans during Durand Cup semi-final match

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Several videos and social media posts surfaced yesterday, reporting violence assaults and racial slurring against Northeast United FC fans in Kolkata, during a the Durand Cup football match held at the famous Salt Lake stadium (Vivekananda Yuba Bharati stadium) on the 29th of August, 2023.

The high-intensity Durand Cup semi-final match concluded with a penalty shootout win for East Bengal FC. However, putting a dampener to the stupendous performance of the East Bengal FC team, Northeast United FC fans had to be escorted out of the stadium under heavy protection by the police and army personnel.

Reportedly, East Bengal FC supporters hurled racial slurs and physical objects at Northeast United FC fans during the match.

A Fan page of East Bengal FC had earlier issued an apology to the North-eastern fans saying that game was that of love and brotherhood and condemned the behaviour of the fans. However, the page has retracted the apology and instead issued a note recounting an eye-witness, where the East Bengal FC fans allege that the Highlanders also called them ‘Bangladeshi’.

Racial slurring against Northeast people in Football

The racial slurring during a football match not only marred the sportsmanship of the game, but also revealed the underlying the deep prejudices against people of the Northeast states and Darjeeling because of their ‘different’ appearances. Irrespective of the outcome, this incident stands as a grim reminder of the challenges that people from the Northeast must confront time and again.

Northeast United FC has also issued a statement on X (formerly Twitter) regarding the incident and showing support for their fans. 

Our statement about Tuesday's incidents at VYBK.#NEUFC #UnitedAgainstRacism

— NorthEast United FC (@NEUtdFC) August 30, 2023

It is understandable that Football is a beautiful game, but infamous for baggage of hooliganism and violence it shoulders.  As the popularity of Football grows in India, the onus is now upon the All India Football Federation and the respective clubs about what steps they undertake to prevent racial abuse and slurring in Indian Football.

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