There’s a very thin line separating hypocrisy from idealism; one that’s easy to cross. Virat Kohli, on November 7, dipped his toes in the water of hypocrisy, when he responded to an Indian fan who had claimed that he preferred to watch batsmen from other countries, more specifically England and Australia, bat rather than Indians.
Kohli, in response, lashed out, advising him to leave the country. “Okay, I don’t think you should live in India then… you should go and live somewhere else, no? Why are you living in our country and loving other countries? I don’t mind you not liking me but I don’t think you should live in our country and like other things. Get your priorities right.” The Indian skipper has faced immense backlash following his controversial statement, with even the BCCI condemning his actions.
“Virat needs to understand that if the fans go away to other countries, then no Puma etc. will want to sign him for ₹100 crores. The BCCI’s revenue will fall, and consequently the players’ fees. If he checks his contract, he may find that he may have violated his contract with this statement. He should walk the talk and support the BCCI’s partners rather than focusing on private endorsements. He is a great player and it’s time to try and be a great human being,” an undisclosed BCCI official had stated.
What’s really surprising about Kohli’s statement is not the intentions behind it – which may be harmless for all we know – but the fact that it’s come from a man who has built a fortune endorsing non-Indian brands such as Puma, Audi, MRF, Colgate-Palmolive, Tissot among others in the past.
Kohli recently signed a Rs 110-crore deal with Puma, a German footwear company, becoming the first Indian cricketer to sign an endorsement deal of such magnitude with a single brand. If he does feel so strongly about the country and everything Indian, couldn’t he have signed up with one of the Indian sports manufacturing companies, hundreds of whom would have been queuing up outside his front door for a deal?
Was it the 100-crores that swayed him, the prospect of dealing with a multinational company the size of Puma, or was he simply not thinking – like when he made that brash statement.
Digging up the past
Ever since Kohli made those remarks, his career – and personal life – has been scrutinized with a fine tooth-comb in the hopes of dredging up some skeletons from his closet.
One such skeleton came in the form of a tweet was dug up from his past; one in which he congratulated German tennis player Angelique Kerber for her victory in the 2016 Wimbledon championships. Kohli went on to claim that the German was his favourite woman tennis player. Surely that couldn’t be possible. After all, how can someone who ‘lives in our country’, ‘like other things’?
Congratulations @AngeliqueKerber for winning the australian open. Officially my favourite womens tennis player. What a fighter 👍👏🏻
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) January 31, 2016
That’s no mere one-off either. Kohli has famously opened up about his favourite players from different sports. A huge fan of Roger Federer, he once paid homage to him when he said, “Roger Federer is my ultimate favorite. When he plays it’s so beautiful.”
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) January 22, 2016
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) January 12, 2015
Sticking to tennis, Kohli, at one point in time, also happened to be the co-owner of IPTL franchise UAE Royals. This might not seem too bad at first glance, but taking into account the fact that an Indian team – the Indian Aces – participated in the same tournament, wouldn’t it have made sense, in Kohli’s perception of an ideal world, to have taken charge of that franchise instead?
Another instance came during the 2018 World Cup, where Kohli expressed his wishes for the England football team and Harry Kane as well, indicating his support for the nation. He is also known to be a hardcore Real Madrid fan in club football, pictured numerous times with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and co. and also generous in his praise for the now Juventus superstar.
Surely, if Kohli felt so strongly about what he preaches, he would have focussed his interests on Indian football instead, promoting the interests of the lower clubs in the country.
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) June 18, 2018
That’s not by any means the end of it. Rewind to December of last year and our eyes shift to the wonderful wedding between Kohli and Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma. Interestingly enough, the couple decided to have their ceremony in a country as many as 6000 kms away from Kohli’s beloved India.
Did the poster boy of Indian cricket not love his country enough to have his own wedding in it? Was he chastised for his decision though? No, he wasn’t. So why then does Kohli have the right to brazenly accuse someone of not being a true Indian and try to force him out of the country when he too seems to have tread the same path?
By making such a statement, hasn’t Kohli shifted goalposts at will; implying that the same rules do not apply to him.
Final nail in the coffin
Shouldn’t Kohli himself consider leaving the country taking into account everything that’s been mentioned above? All this is well and good, but where’s the smoking gun, you ask? Well, I’ll give it to you.
In another video – from the 2008 U19 World Cup that resurfaced recently – Kohli can be seen explaining who is favourite international cricket is.
With an abundance of options to choose from – the nation has birthed some of the greatest to have ever graced a cricket field including Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Sunil Gavaskar, you get the drift – the future skipper of the Indian national team, stunned us all when he cheerily retorted, “Herschelle Gibbs”.
Oh, btw @imVkohli Viral Kohli's favorite cricketer is a foreigner Herschelle Gibbs and not any Indian. 🙄
Ab Kohli desh chhod ke chala jayega 😭 pic.twitter.com/eGe3fGAz9r
— Gaurav Pandhi (@GauravPandhi) November 7, 2018
Kohli is also often seen racing around in one of his many Audis – his favourite car manufactured by a German company- and again surely contrary to his beliefs.
Surely, it all boils down to the 30-year-old being uncomfortable with criticism; something even former England captain Mike Brearley alluded to earlier when he said: “Virat is a fantastic captain, I just hope he doesn’t become too authoritarian. He should be open enough to listen to other voices.”
Kohli needs to wake up and smell the music. He needs to open his ears and let the other voices in before he loses sight of what he truly is.