Indian midfielder Jeakson Singh called for peace in his home state of Manipur, where more than 100 people have been killed in violence over the past two months. His statements came as he was explaining the reasoning behind sporting a 'Manipur flag' while receiving his winner's medal at the 2023 SAFF Championships on Tuesday.
Jeakson had received his medal draped in a seven-coloured flag known to be representing the seven clan dynasties of the Meitei ethnicity of Ancient Manipur. It sparked some discourse on social media, with speculation that Jeakson was implicitly offering support to one side in the violence in Manipur, although the midfielder later insisted it was a gesture of awareness and called for peace.
- Shyam Vasudevan (@JesuisShyam) July 4, 2023
Speaking to the media after the game, the midfielder clarified his position, saying "It's my Manipur flag. I just wanted to...what's happening in Manipur...I just wanted to tell everyone in India and Manipur to stay in peace and not fight. I want peace. It's been 2 months now and still fighting is going on. I don't want that kind of thing to happen more and I just want to bring the government's and other people's attention to get peace you know. My family is safe but there are lot of families who have suffered and lost their home and all."
"Yeah it's difficult now...even for me it's difficult to go back home now with the situation...even I don't know what's going to happen. I hope things get well soon."
By celebrating in the flag, I did not want to hurt the sentiments of anyone. I intended to bring notice to the issues that my home state, Manipur, is facing currently.
This win tonight is dedicated to all the Indians. pic.twitter.com/fuL8TE8dU4
- Jeakson Singh Thounaojam (@JeaksonT) July 4, 2023
Jeakson went on to further state that he had no intentions of hurting any sentiments, reiterating his call for peace with a post on social media:
"Dear Fans, By celebrating in the flag, I did not want to hurt the sentiments of anyone. I intended to bring notice to the issues that my home state, Manipur, is facing currently. This win tonight is dedicated to all the Indians."
"I hope that peace returns to my home state of Manipur. Thank you to the fans for coming out and supporting the team tonight!"
Jeakson was a key part of India's victories in the 2023 SAFF Championships and Intercontinental Cup, with the midfielder featuring often under Igor Stimac. He first came to prominence in the national spotlight by scoring India's first, and only, goal in any World Cup (2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup) and has since established himself as a national team regular and also at his club, Kerala Blasters FC.