John Abraham
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John Abraham: 'I was there as a football enthusiast'

John Abraham

By HT

New Delhi, July 8 -- Actor John Abraham, who had to face severe criticism from football fans for being part of a panel of football experts on TV on the first day of the ongoing World Cup, has taken the criticism in his stride.    

Reacting to it, John, who is also the brand ambassador of the World Cup in India, says, "For the first time, Indians saw an actor commenting on football, on such an important show. It was a new concept for them, so the reactions were obviously mixed. But, to be honest, our intentions were right. I was there as a football enthusiast, not as an actor."    

People, of course, wondered if it was the criticism that urged John to leave the show. "Unless someone is living under a rock, they know that I am a football enthusiast ... I wasn't there to promote a film, but to promote the sport. That's all I tried to do, and I enjoyed it. And if people had appreciated it, things would have been different," he says.

The 41-year-old actor had to face a barrage of negative e comments on social media, with fans questioning his credibility as an expert on the game.    

The actor, however, says that the reactions were not all negative: "Many [people] from the film fraternity told me, 'John, what you have done is commendable because no one from our field has done it before...'."    

About the scope of the sport in India, he says, "We need to develop grass roots programmes. For example, I co-own the club Shillong Lajong FC, and our programs in the North-East are strong. We are training kids aged nine to 20. This will raise the standard of domestic clubs. Once that happens, the sport will surely grow in India."