BCCI rubbishes blackmail charge over race row

Published: Saturday, February 2, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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New Delhi: Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sharad Pawar has rubbished reports of the BCCI resorting to blackmailing Cricket Australia officialdom into submission over the Harbhajan Singh racial abuse case.

Pawar told Karan Thapar in the Devil's Advocate programme on CNN-IBN, that no financial clout was used to get a favourable verdict for Harbhajan Singh, and added that the judgement was that of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

"Australian media projected that we blackmailed the ICC by using our financial clout. We had not blackmailed ICC or anybody. It is a bit funny after the matter was resolved, we have been accused of bulldozing the ICC. We have not issued a threat to pull out of the tour. So, where is the question of blackmailing anybody, leave alone ICC," Pawar told.

"I was authorised to take any appropriate decision. I have said it is difficult for the board to digest that an Indian player would be charged of racial abuse and still playing on a cricket filed.

Pawar said the board will not tolerate any unsporting behaviour by the players and warned them against using abusive language in future.

"They are ambassadors of the country. They should behave properly. We have told them the board will take serious view of any behaviour unbecoming of an Indian," he said.

"See (Rahul) Dravid, (Anil) Kumble and (Sachin) Tendulkar, they are respected the world over for their on-field conduct. They should be role models for other cricketers," Pawar added.

When asked whether the BCCI handled the issue properly, he said the whole country appreciated the stand taken by it.

"We were absolutely confident that Harbhajan did not use any racially abusive language, we were confident to get a favourable verdict from the Appeals Commissioner (New Zealand Judge John Hansen). I was told by Sachin Tendulkar that Harbhajan had not used any racially abusive language. He had used a Punjabi 'gali'," he said.

Pawar reiterated that an Appeals Judge could not have taken new evidence which was not considered by the lower authority.

"Collection of evidence is done by the lower court, that is the normal legal procedure. When a matter goes to superior court, it again considers all the evidence collected by the lower court and takes a decision. The Appeals court can not consider additional evidence," he said.

The BCCI chief also refused to cast motives on the Australian players and denied that they were targeting Harbhajan to 'trap' him.


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