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'BCCI must abide by anti-racism code'

BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah has also conceded that the Board has not appointed an anti-racism officer.

cricket Updated: Oct 17, 2007 12:13 IST

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has warned the Indian Board that it must abide by its anti-racism code and act seriously on the incident of racist crowd behaviour against Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds in Vadodara.



The BCCI has played down the incident only to irk the Australian team and the ICC, which has sought an explanation from the Indian Board on the issue.



BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah has also conceded that the Board has not appointed an anti-racism officer, despite it being a requirement of the ICC for all Test-playing nations, a

Sydney Morning Herald

report said on Wednesday.



But both Ray Mali, ICC's acting chairman, and David Morgan, the chairman-elect, have stated in no uncertain terms that India must fall into line with other cricketing nations and abide by the anti-racism code. "Every member of the ICC is a signatory to that code, and we expect everyone to follow it," Mali told a local daily in Melbourne.



"If there is someone not abiding by that, then certainly we will do something about it. As the ICC president, I strongly condemn incidents of racism wherever they occur throughout the world. This is a serious issue, and we need to act on it to the best of our abilities," Mali said.



Morgan, who will assume the ICC chairmanship next year, echoed Mali's sentiments and denied the council afforded preferential treatment to the BCCI on account of the millions of dollars it brings to the game in the form of television rights and sponsorship deals.



"There should certainly be a consistent approach in the way the anti-racism code is enforced and I have no reason to believe it will not be in this instance," Morgan told the '

Herald Sun'

.



"ICC guidelines have to be followed by all ... (and) I certainly will be pressing buttons to ensure there is a zero-tolerance policy towards racism around the world.



"The executive of the ICC treats each member nation equally and fairly. It is not right to say one is favoured, just as it is not right to say that Australia back down to India. Cricket Australia certainly punches its weight at ICC meetings, which is right."



Sensing trouble, the BCCI has come forward from its initial indifference over the issue.



The Indian Board has decided to display anti-racism messages during the matches and is reportedly having negotiations with Cricket Australia and the ICC on how to address the situation.



The Australians, meanwhile, have reacted strongly to comments from former internationals Mark Waugh and Allan Border that Symonds has been over-sensitive in his reaction to the racial taunting. "I don't think he has been (precious). Mark Waugh and Border played in a world that's slightly different to the one we are currently playing in," Aussie captain Ricky Ponting was quoted saying.



"It would be disappointing if (BCCI) is accusing (Symonds) of lying because we all know that that is not the case.


"It wouldn't be written up in a referee's match report if it wasn't true. Referees would be very cautious about making those sort of allegations against anyone, especially when it's such a sensitive issue," he said.