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Australia not a racist nation, says CA

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2007, 3:35 [IST]
 
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Apprehending renewed crowd trouble during the home series against Sri Lanka in the backdrop of the alleged racial taunts against Andrew Symonds in India, Cricket Australia (CA) Chief Executive officer James Sutherland has warned fans of inappropriate behaviour in the stadiums and said there is no place for racism in Australia.

Addressing the media on the eve of the opening Test between Australia and Sri Lanka in Brisbane, Sutherland said, "Australia is not a racist nation and we are confident that fans will act appropriately. I'm very positive about the coming season."

''I'm confident Australian cricket fans are above racism, but we remind them that if they cross the line, they are not welcome at Australian cricket grounds.'' ''There is no place for racism in Australian sport or society.

We have a record number of international cricket days scheduled and two of the most exciting teams in world cricket here for Test and one-day international matches,'' he added.

Racism has come into renewed focus in recent times due to the alleged racial taunts directed against Andrew Symonds during the Future Cup ODI series with India which concluded last month.

One of the most famous incidents of racism in Australia involves Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, the second highest wicket-taker in the world after Aussie legend Shane Warne.

He was taunted by boorish fans during his first tour Down Under in 1996. The unpleasant memories from that tour prompted the Lankan to pull out of his team's next Australian tour in 2004.

Racism has reared its ugly head in Australia time and again as witnessed during the tours of South Africa and England recently.

These incidents had prompted the Australian board to implement a number of changes in its spectator management policy in the lead-up to the 2006-07 season.

The review of the guidelines this year found that those reforms were well received by both the authorities and the spectators. It was conducted in collaboration with state cricket associations, venue managers and state police.

One of the mainstays of the new strategy is the widespread use of closed circuit television inside each Australian venue. This will ensure that there is no place to hide if spectators choose to behave in an inappropriate manner.

The measures also include an SMS initiative which involves the direct participation of the general public in stadium security. If a spectator feels that someone's behaviour is not acceptable, he or she is encouraged to alert the authorities who will deal with it appropriately.

With the support of law enforcement authorities, Cricket Australia will eject any person trying to start a Mexican wave. The primary reason for the ban is due to the high number of injuries to spectators after being struck by objects thrown during the wave in recent seasons.

The new measures will be operationalised during the Test series against Sri Lanka which stars tomorrow in Brisbane.

UNI

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