ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 in West Indies turned out to be the worst nightmare for Pakistani fans. In just their second group game they were almost certainly eliminated (which they eventually were) at the hands of a minnow cricketing nation, Ireland.

The grief was intense when most of the Pakistani fans realized that the World Cup was over for them, and that they will not be switching on their television for the World Cup anymore. But the same fans were tuned into another match, just an hour later, with same interest and excitement as they had for Pakistan’s match.

This match was between India and Bangladesh, and the excitement was because India were losing. If India had lost, their humiliation would have been equal to that of Pakistan’s. India lost, and the Pakistanis who were drenched in sorrow moments earlier, forgot their team’s result and celebrated India’s defeat.

The celebration was not necessarily to showcase hatred for India, but it was important to give India a ‘shut up call’ lest they mocked us till the next World Cup.

This flashback was just to remind us how bitter Pak-India cricket rivalry is exactly.

Pak-India match tickets being sold out within few minutes do not merely show how crazy the fans were to secure their presence in the stadium for this match, it shows business; the business that Pakistan India cricket match brings in numerous ways. More than half of those tickets would have been bought to be sold later on for prices twice or thrice the original amount, to cash in on the Pak-India cricket craze.

The latest to bear the brunt of the Pak-India cricket craze is neither a Pakistani nor an India. He isn’t a cricketer either. He is in fact the man considered by many to be the greatest tennis player of all time, whose social media post in support of the Indian cricket team has resulted in outrage in our neck of the woods.  

Why did Federer’s #BleedBlue post become so controversial? If it had been #BleedRed or #BleedYellow, he would have been fine. But he cannot take any sides when it comes to choosing between Green (Pakistan) or Blue (India).

Why exactly?

Many Pakistani fans have expressed their anger and disappointment towards Roger Federer for supporting Team India. Many die-hard fans have abandoned him just on the basis of this solitary incident.

There must have been something horrendously wrong with the #BleedBlue post for us to pour out such outburst. Or is the reaction, in fact, completely nonsensical, and we are actually mocking our own selves? I think the latter.

Let’s for a moment assume that Federer should have supported Team Green. And let’s discuss all the plausible reasons why it should have happened.

The only reason I can think of is that Federer has a huge fan following in Pakistan. In fact I myself started playing and following tennis after I saw him play. But this is something personal; and Federer does not owe me anything for my support.

And since there are not many scales to measure the intensity of fan following other than a) fan posts going viral over social media or b) interactions with fans from a particular community, let’s put things into perspective.

Has Federer played any tournament in Pakistan? No.

Has he visited Pakistan? No.

Has there ever been any notable example of a Federer aficionado from Pakistan, whose support for the Swiss maestro went viral on the internet? No.

Has any Pakistani sports personality (except Aisamul Haq) or celebrity had any personal contact with him? Not that we know of.

Is green the color of Switzerland’s flag or sports kits? [Just trying desperately find a point to support the argument that Federer should be on our side]

I can go on and on.

On the contrary, Federer has visited India many times. He has played tournaments there. His fans from India have done crazy things for him that went viral on social media. He has been friends with many Indian cricketers and Bollywood stars. He has got all the love and respect in all possible ways from India and Indian fans.

The love and support is the same here in Pakistan as well. But keeping every single factor mentioned above in mind, who would Federer go with, if he had to take side?

I am in no way alleging selfishness or materialism here. I am just trying to ask a simple question: who would you support keeping all the aforementioned facts in mind; if you had to support one?

There can be another argument, of course, that Federer had no need to pick any side. Cricket is not his game; he should have kept his preference to himself.

Then there is one last comparison left, which I did not make earlier. The ‘Nike’ factor.

‘Nike’ has been Federer’s sponsor ever since he started playing professional tennis, and Federer has been one of Nike’s greatest assets.  The same Nike logo is on Indian Cricket team’s jersey as well. While Federer was in India, the shirt (which Federer revealed in his post) was a gift from the Indian cricket team for him. It was a very nice gesture.

Now consider one simple, hypothetical scenario. Let’s suppose Aisam ul Haq Qureshi is sponsored by Nike. He has been to Australia many times and has played a lot of tennis there as well. He is also good friends with Michael Clarke, Mitchel Johnson and Don Bradman. Australian team (Aisam’s friends) gives him the Australian shirt as a gesture of friendship. Now come February 28th, wouldn’t he love to express his gratitude by putting on the Australia kit while they play New Zealand? Would anyone object, let alone react with outrage?

All of the discussion and controversy can be shredded off with one simple fact, that it was just a marketing stunt for ‘Nike’, which any sportsman would have done as per loyalty towards his brand.

I support and respect Roger Federer for what he has done for tennis. Not on the basis of what he did in Pakistan-India cricket match. He had no reason to apologise for the #BleedBlue post and yet he did.

In fact we are the ones who need to apologise for the overreaction, owing to which we made a mockery out of our own selves. Let’s #BleedGreen ourselves and let go off pointless jingoism that makes us look unbelievably narrow-minded.