Sania Mirza calls out World Cup ads play on India Pakistan rivalry
Indian tennis star Sania Mirza took to Twitter to express her dismay at ads promoting the India-Pakistan World Cup Match by invoking the political wrangling on between the two neighbours.
On Wednesday, Sania Mirza called out exactly what needed to be said. The tennis star highlighted the practice of using sensational ads to promote the India Pakistan World Cup Match.
Cringeworthy ads on both sides of the border ???? seriously guys, you don’t need to ‘hype up’ or market the match anymore specially with rubbish! it has ENOUGH attention already!It’s only cricket for God sake, and if you think it’s anymore than that then get a grip or get a life !!— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) June 12, 2019
This Sunday, India plays against Pakistan in a race towards the Cricket World Cup 2019. In the lead up to the match, television broadcasters on both sides have chosen to show promotional advertisements for the match that rely heavily on the volatile relationship between the rival nations.
For example, in India, the Star network has been running an ad where an Indian supporter, dressed in the blue jersey, references India’s mastery over Pakistan by calling himself Pakistan’s ‘abbu’ - the colloquial term for father. The ad ends with a tongue-in-cheek - and yet totally tone deaf - wish for Happy Father’s Day; which happens to coincide with match day.
Similarly, Jazz TV in Pakistan has been running an ad where an actor impersonates Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. It shows the Wing Commander being lightly interrogated, and then being allowed to leave - but not before he’s asked to leave ‘the cup’ behind.
Both ads make light of a situation fraught with conflict. Both ads capitalise on the high running emotions of two nations with sibling rivalry, so to speak. Both ads are monetising the turbulent emotions of two nations. And both ads reference points that are highly sensitive to the nation in question.
India is going through an age of extreme polarisation. In this context, while Mirza’s comments might be seen as making a mountain out of a mole hill, we cannot ignore how high emotions run during any face-off between the two countries. One hopes there will come a time when these ads can be taken with a pinch of salt. But until then, as Sania Mirza said, it’s only cricket. And it falls to the media to treat the match only as such.