Bangalore: The ICC has given international umpires a new mandate to clamp down on obscene language, sledging and racial abuse on the field of play.
The elite panel has been encouraged to report offending players under four specific definitions. These have, for the first time, given clear guidelines to players and officials of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable language and behaviour. "We want international cricket to be tough and competitive but we also want to improve its image with the public. Umpires have agreed to support this drive by clamping down on language and behaviour that falls below reasonable standards," explained ICC Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Speed. "We are not trying to outlaw verbal exchanges between players, but spectators and viewers must not be exposed to crude, excessive language and gestures," he added. The four categories covering obscene language and behaviour are included in the new Players Code of Conduct. Each is targeted at a specific offence, with Level 1 covering general use of bad language and obscene gestures, through to sledging (Level 2) and racial and ethnic abuse (Levels 3 and 4). There are few precedents of players being disciplined for these offences, but the new Code adds weight to the ICC's drive to improve perceptions of the game by allowing for both suspensions and severe financial penalties. "The majority of cricketers are well behaved and play the game in the correct spirit. What we are doing with this initiative is to clarify the boundaries of behaviour for international cricket, in line with other major sports," said David Richardson, ICC's general manager-cricket. In detail, the new provisions are: Level 1: /b> 1.4 Using language that is obscene, offensive or insulting and/or the making of an obscene gesture. Penalties for a Level 1 offence will range from an official reprimand and/or a fine of up to the equivalent of 50% of the player or official's match fee. Level 2: 2.9 Using language that is obscene, offensive or of a seriously insulting nature to another player, umpire, referee, Team Official or spectator. (It is acknowledged that there will be verbal exchanges between players in the course of play. Rather than seeking to eliminate these exchanges entirely, umpires will look to lay charges when this falls below an acceptance standard. In this instance, language will be interpreted to include gestures). Penalties for Level 2 offences will range from a fine of between 50% of the player or official's match fee up to their full match fee and/or a 1 Test match or 2 ODI match ban. Level 3: 3.4 Using language or gestures that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person's race, religion, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. Penalties for Level 3 offences will range from a ban for the player or match official concerned of between 2 and 4 Test matches or between 4 and 8 ODI matches. Level 4: 4.5 Using language or gestures that seriously offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person's race, religion, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. Penalties for Level 4 offences will range from a ban of between 5 Test matches or 10 ODI matches up to a life ban for the player or official concerned. The new Players Code of Conduct has been circulated to all international Boards and is being briefed to captains, managers and their teams by Referees prior to the start of new series.
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