Irate Indian fans urge boycott of cricketers sponsors

Published: Monday, February 17, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi: A number of Indian cricket fans, outraged by their team's humiliating loss to Australia, are campaigning to punish Saurav Ganguly and his men by boycotting products they endorse. An instant poll taken by a Hindi-language news channel after India was crushed by the defending champion on Sunday found that more than 80 per cent of respondents would stay away from products plugged by the "Men in Blue."

And now short messaging service (SMS) messages are circulating across India's mobile telephone network urging an outright boycott. An English language newspaper said some sponsors, sensing the public mood, have quietly withdrawn television commercials featuring the Indian cricketers, who have super star status in this country of one billion-plus. What worried the sponsors was a single SMS message sent across the country which said, "We make one promise today - not to buy any product which has Indian cricketers as models," the daily said.

Two mobile phone service providers in Eastern India said that while it was impossible to tell how many of the messages were sent, they had each recorded it hitting users' inboxes 100,000 times. "Indian cricket is dead after its humiliating nine-wicket defeat against Australia," said Amit De, a spokesman for the Calcutta Youth Federation, which organised a mock funeral of Indian cricket in Kolkata on Sunday. He blamed the Board of Control for Cricket in India for the team's dismal performance saying, "The funeral procession marks the end of Indian cricket."

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