Regular captain Virat Kohli on Sunday strongly condemned reported incidents of racial abuse during the third Test between Australia and India, saying it was sad to see what happened with his teammates at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
Taking to Twitter, Kohli — who is in India for the birth of first child — said that strict action should be taken against the offenders to set things straight.
“Racial abuse is absolutely unacceptable. Having gone through many incidents of really pathetic things said on the boundary lines, this is the absolute peak of rowdy behaviour. It’s sad to see this happen on the field,” Kohli said.
“The incident needs to be looked at with absolute urgency and seriousness and strict action against the offenders should set things straight for once,” he added.
The Indian team had apprised match referee David Boon of alleged racial abuse at the end of the third day’s play. Match and stadium officials were alert on the fourth day and as such play was halted and six people were evicted following another incident just before Tea during Australia’s second innings.
Sunday’s incident followed alleged racial abuse of Indian players — Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj — by a section of the SCG crowd, the complaint of which was officially made by the Indian team on Saturday.
Right-arm pacer Mohammad Shami also condemned the incidents and said it was disappointing to see his teammates becoming subject to racial abuse repeatedly in Sydney.
“Disappointing to see that my teammates were subjected to racial abuse repeatedly in Sydney. There is no place for racism in today’s world and it is not acceptable. I hope that strict action is taken against those who misbehaved,” he tweeted.
“I personally have heard many things on the field while playing in Australia about me, my religion, my colour and much more. This isn’t the first time the crowd is doing this nonsense. How do you stop them??? #AUSvIND,” tweeted Harbhajan Singh while condemning the incidents.
VVS Laxman tweeted: “Very unfortunate to see what’s happening at SCG. There is no place for this rubbish. Never understood the need to yell abuse at players on a sporting field. If you’re not here to watch the game and can’t be respectful then please don’t come and spoil the atmosphere.”
Meanwhile, Cricket Australia (CA) has apologised to Team India and assured strict action against the offenders.
“CA is awaiting the outcome of the International Cricket Council’s investigation into the matter reported at the SCG on Saturday. Once those responsible are identified, CA will take the strongest measures possible under our Anti-Harassment Code, including lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police. As series hosts, we unreservedly apologise to our friends in the Indian cricket team and assure them we will prosecute the matter to its fullest extent,” said Carroll, Cricket Australia’s Head of Integrity and Security in an official statement.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) also condemned the incidents of racism and said it has offered Cricket Australia all necessary support in investigating the incidents.
“There is no place for discrimination in our sport and we are incredibly disappointed that a small minority of fans may think that this abhorrent behaviour is acceptable,” said ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney.