Players to be scrutinised as well December 23, 2007

Racist fans at MCG face life bans

Cricinfo staff



Undercover surveillance officers and CCTV cameras will be placed in several parts of the ground to keep an eye on the fans © Getty Images

Fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the Boxing Day Test between India and Australia could be banned for life if found guilty of racially taunting players and fellow fans. Cricket Australia announced that undercover surveillance officers and CCTV cameras will be placed in several parts of the ground to keep an eye on the fans and eject those who make racists comments or flaunt banners and placards with racist slogans.

"We're taking a zero-tolerance approach to racism on and off the field," Peter Young, Cricket Australia's anti-racism officer was quoted as saying in the Herald Sun. "Our message to any mindless people who are thinking of going down that path is we won't tolerate that sort of thing. We will find anyone who does it, they will be ejected from the ground and they face life bans from ever re-entering the ground."

Players will also be monitored, with the umpires instructed to report anyone insulting their opponent's race, colour or religion. Board officials will meet Indian players and staff to compile a list of offensive words and sayings, including insults that could be delivered in a foreign language. A 24-hour hotline will be made available for the Indian players to contact if they are racially abused during their stay.

The issue of unruly crowd behaviour and racist taunts is nothing new in series played between the two teams. In the recent seven-match one-day series in India, Australian batsmen Andrew Symonds was taunted by Indian fans. To avoid a repeat of something similar, Young said the vigilance will now be beefed up. Victimised fans will also have the option of texting the stadium staff to report unruly behaviour.

"The person sitting next to you in the Boonie top and drinking a VB could be a surveillance officer monitoring the crowd to make sure no one is being racist," Young said. The first Test starts from December 26.

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