The alleged racist abuse of Indian players by fans at the third Test in Sydney is just the latest in a litany of similar incidents to spoil sport in Australia, with authorities struggling to get rid of the problem. Cricket chiefs swore harsh action, including bans, fines, and police referrals if spectators were proven to have hurled racist taunts after two incidents on different days overshadowed the blockbuster clash. But it remains an ongoing, if isolated, problem. Fast bowlers Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah were apparently targeted while playing late Saturday at the Sydney Cricket Ground boundary lines, with reports of their being called “monkey” among other insults.
In a second incident, the game was halted on Sunday when Siraj ran to the umpires from the border and pointed into the crowd. It was not immediately clear what was said, but six men were expelled and an investigation is ongoing.
Veteran Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said it was not a new problem for visiting teams, claiming he had come to the end of “nasty” abuse on four trips to the country, with Sydney being the worst.
“This is an ongoing event in Sydney, I have also experienced it personally,” he said.
“When I take myself back to my first tour in 2011-2012, I had no idea about racist abuse and how to make you feel small in front of so many people.
“And people really laugh at you when you are being abused, I had no idea what this was about.
“When I was at the boundary line, you wanted to stand 10 meters inside to keep yourself from these things … this is absolutely not acceptable.”
The Australian team had formed a “barefoot circle” ahead of the four-Test series against the cricket powerhouse to showcase opposition to racism and celebrate Aboriginal culture.
Cricket Australia strongly condemned the weekend incidents, as did Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who said: “There is no place for racism in Australia. We are a tolerant country and the most successful multicultural nation in the world.”
But it has been a problem in Australian sport for decades, both on and off the field.
Former Australian Test star Usman Khawaja has previously said that he was so often abused during his childhood that he refused to support the national side, claiming that racism once played a role in the squad’s selections.
Khawaja, who immigrated as a child, fought the odds of becoming Australia’s first Pakistan-born national player, but it wasn’t easy.
“Sledding by opponents and their parents was the norm. Some of them said it just so softly that only I could hear it,” he wrote several years ago.
As he got older, he said Australia grew up too and “I began to understand that the minority of Australians who treated me this way was just that, a minority.”
All-rounder Dan Christian has also fallen victim, mainly to online trolls, revealing last year that he was the target of his statements about “casual racism” in cricket.
‘It is certain’
As one of only six Indigenous players to represent Australia internationally, he said it was not “as in-your-face as elsewhere in the world” but that “it certainly is”.
Football has also been affected, with Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young, who is of Sri Lankan and Scottish descent, racially abused by a disaffected fan in 2018.
The culprit was banned from future home games.
Australia’s most popular spectator sport, Aussie Rules, which is similar to Irish Gaelic football and has long featured native stars, has been one of the biggest culprits, known for the raucous crowds taunting players.
Such behavior used to be considered an essential part of the game, but attitudes began to change in the 1990s.
One of the most powerful images associated with racism in Australian sport is of native St Kilda player Nicky Winmar, who responded to abuse from Collingwood supporters in 1993 by lifting his shirt while looking at the crowd and his skin. orphan.
That gesture is often seen as the catalyst for tackling racial defamation in Australian Rules.
It introduced policies in the 1990s that made it an offense for players or officials to insult anyone because of their race, religion, ethnicity, color, nationality or background, after which the position was taken by many other sports, including cricket.
But problems persist with Adam Goodes, one of Australia’s most high-profile Indigenous athletes, who retired from Aussie Rules in 2015 after being booing repeatedly.
And it wasn’t until last year that veteran Eddie Betts was portrayed as a monkey in a Twitter post the same weekend that all AFL teams rallied in support of Black Lives Matter.
Topics mentioned in this article