Fans and Virat have equal freedom of speech: Zaheer on Kohli’s leave India controversy

Former India cricketers Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan weighed in on the controversy surrounding Virat Kohli and his ‘leave India’ comment on social media.

Kohli’s video on social media went viral for all the wrong reasons after he was seen telling a fan to live in some other country if he doesn’t like or support Indian cricketers.

“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,” is what Kohli said in the video.

Kohli might break most batting records barring Tendulkar’s 200 Tests: Sehwag

The India captain’s comments drew immediate condemnation on social media while cricket pundits criticised him for his rude reply.

READ – Don’t like our batsmen, leave! Is Kohli too impulsive as a captain?

Zaheer however, feels everybody has the right to freedom of speech and both parties are not really at fault in this matter.

“Fans and Virat have equal freedom of speech. India is a democractic country and everybody has freedom of speech. Even the clarification Virat gave it came because he wanted to clearly state his feelings on the matter,” Zaheer told AajTak.

READ – The Kohli comment storm: Kaif jumps to skipper’s defence, BCCI top brass unhappy

Sehwag on the other hand, stated that everybody has the right to pick athletes from other countries as their favourites.

“Everybody has the right to speak. We have also been asked who our favourite player is and I have taken names like Roger Federer, Brian Lara and Adam Gilchrist.

READ – Go live in some other country: Kohli to fan who says he doesn’t like Indian batsmen

“Fans have the right to choose their favourite players and so do the players. Only the media blows up incidents like these and creates controversies,” Sehwag said.

Kohli took to Twitter on Thursday to clarify his point and explained why he had made the “leave India” comment.

READ – I don’t think he’ll really be proud of what he said: Aakash Chopra on Virat Kohli’s comment

“I guess trolling isn’t for me guys, I’ll stick to getting trolled! I spoke about how “these Indians” was mentioned in the comment and that’s all. I’m all for freedom of choice. Keep it light guys and enjoy the festive season. Love and peace to all,” Kohli tweeted but the damage was already done by then.

Since Kohli’s video went viral, fans have expressed their staunch views over the 30-year-old’s statements calling him arrogant and obnoxious. One fan said Kohli may have had a brain fade moment and shouldn’t be attacked.

Taking note of the situation, the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) will now look into the matter. “The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) will look into the matter,” a source told ANI.

The BCCI top brass meanwhile, it is learnt, is not happy with the statement but are undecided whether to haul up Kohli for the comment.

“It was a very stupid comment to make. He should have been more careful. He must understand that the kind of money he is earning is because Indian fans have invested in this game.

“But again the comment was made on his private forum or business initiative. He hasn’t used a BCCI platform so that’s also an issue,” the senior official said.