ISL 2017: When Kerala Blasters fans trolled Materazzi
Who knew that even Indian fans could be so passionate when it came to a sport apart from cricket. As ISL 2017 rolls in, we look back at one of the most entertaining moments of past seasons, and if you're talking about entertaining, few can beat this particular moment of fandom and support from the Kerala Blasters FC fans as they mocked the opposition team, and in particular their manager, Chennaiyin FC boss Marco Materazzi.
The story is interesting in itself, but its important to note that a game between the South Indian rivals Kerala and Chennai is nothing short of a derby, and fans tend to get a little crazy for their respective sides, and poor old Materazzi learned that the hard way.
In the reverse fixture between the sides, the Italian World Cup-winning defender drew the ire of Kerala Blasters fans after he was at the center of a controversy surrounding a coming together between Kervens Belfort (Kerala Blasters) and Manuele Blasi (Chennaiyin FC). The untimely intervention and subsequent "misconduct" of the Chennaiyin gaffer meant that the Kerala fans took it upon themselves to make him pay for his doing.
As the Chennaiyin FC side made their way to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, a shocking sight awaited them and Materazzi as a jam-packed stadium with an estimated 35,000 people stared down at the pitch in masks of former France and Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane.
The "troll" was obviously a jibe at Materazzi for his alleged insult to Zidane in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final, which led to the infamous headbutt by Zidane, and earned the latter a red card. The Kerala fans made it abundantly clear in that instant that nobody had forgotten the incident and were willing to give what they could back to Materazzi for the wrongdoing he caused when the two teams met earlier in the ISL season.
The masks clearly affected the Italian manager too and it showed on the team's performance, with the Blasters running away 3-1 winners, thanks to a brace from CK Vineeth. After the defeat, Materazzi attributed the loss to luck, and blamed the masks for the lack of support from the visiting side's fans when the team was losing.
All in all, a disappointing day in the office for a player who would have least expected a seemingly cricket-crazy nation to greet him with one of his least favourite memories ever.