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Racism on cricket field

Charges of racist taunting have shaken the sedate world of village cricket after Asian players were allegedly jeered as ?Al-Qaeda members? in Great Preston.

india Updated: Dec 24, 2003 21:35 IST

Charges of racist taunting have shaken the sedate world of village cricket after Asian players were allegedly jeered as “Al-Qaeda members” on a summer afternoon.

The “gentle game” is facing pressure for tougher disciplinary action against an amateur Yorkshire XI, which has been fined £100 after claims of shouts and chants by supporters.

The club at Great Preston, near Leeds, has also been given a warning of suspension, and one of its regular fans has been banned from matches in the local Wetherby League for two years.

But the measures have been dismissed as inadequate by St Chad’s, Broomfield, a mixed side whose players complained about a “barrage of racist abuse” when they visited Great Preston in May.

One of them, Zahid Ali, who has played club cricket in the Leeds area for 30 years, has resigned as chairman of the Wetherby League in protest.

The club meets today to discuss ways of increasing penalties on Great Preston, whose officials and players apologised after the incident.

Yorkshire cricket has been sensitive to charges of the taint of racism after long-running complaints that a glass ceiling prevented promising Asian cricketers from progressing to county level.

Mr Ali said in his resignation letter that St Chad’s Asian players had suffered “the most unprovoked, uncalled for, and sustained racial abuse”, including jeering references to Al-Qaeda.

The Wetherby League’s disciplinary committee subsequently imposed the fine, warning and individual ban, but rejected an appeal by St Chad’s that the punishment was too lenient and should be strengthened.

A spokesman for the league said that Great Preston had apologised over the incident.

The spokesman added that the most serious step of expulsion from the league had not been taken against the club because of limited numbers of witnesses.

But racism was “abhorred”, he added, and the league would ensure it came down hard on proven cases.

The Guardian

First Published: Dec 24, 2003 21:35 IST