If a random trawl of the blogosphere is any indication, Indian players travelling to Australia this winter should expect to cop more than a bit of heat in retaliation for the repeated barracking of Andrew Symonds by Indian crowds. Crowds at the fifth and seventh one-dayers in Vadodara and Mumbai taunted Symonds — Australia’s best performer by far and player of the series — with repeated cries and gestures seen as being racist by the Aussie players and media (Hindustan Times dated 19/10/07)
Racism is not a subject that crops up much in India — when it does, it is usually to comment on how Indians are its victims, rather than its perpetrators. So it is with bemusement that we see Indian cricket fans being accused of racist behaviour against the visiting Australian team, specifically against one of its star players, Andrew Symonds. He has been the victim of jeering and ridicule and on Wednesday, five fans were detained by the police for indulging in such shameful activities at the Mumbai match.
This said, is one sensing a sort of snobbish put-on among both the Indian spectator crowd and some of our players? And, one wonders whether this snobbishness has anything to do with our new found status as a fast growing Asian economy and the richest cricketing country in the world? Are we coming across occasionally as the new upstarts in the block?
Racial abuse is prevalent across the sporting world of Australia, including its cricket grounds, says the report titled ‘ What’s the Score? A survey of cultural diversity and racism in Australian sport’ that was released recently by Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). On Australian cricket, the report points to “racial sledging” of South African cricketers who “were referred to as kaffirs by a small section of spectators” at Perth in December 2005. It says that cricketers from Sri Lanka were “subjected to calls of ‘black c——’ at Adelaide, and adds that an ICC security official was punched by spectators in Melbourne.
But we should not worry about the Australians — we need to set our house in order. The BCCI, which rules Indian cricket, will have to now look at the issue seriously to conform to international regulations. Remember, we owe a lot to Cricket for giving us lots of moments of pleasure when we were not what we were, not very long ago, and it is our duty to see that we do not take the game into disrepute in the country or even internationally. Vadodra and Mumbai, apologize or give up your right to watch cricket on the ground; BCCI take action more for the love of the game than for love of money.