Harbhajan Singh racism controversy February 2, 2008

FICA chief calls on ICC to investigate boards' conduct

Cricinfo staff

The Australian and Indian parties rise at the commencement of Harbhajan Singh's appeal against racism charges in Adelaide © Getty Images
Tim May, the chief executive of FICA, the body which represents the international players' associations, has attacked the way the Harbhajan Singh issue was handled by the two boards and called on the ICC to investigate their conduct.

"Cricket has had three attempts to deal with alleged racial abuse of the same player and has failed on every occasion," he told Cricinfo. "In the latest instance a player held an honest and reasonable belief that he had been racially abused. It does not matter if he may have been mistaken, the fact is, he held an honest and reasonable belief that he had been racially abused. For this, he has been portrayed as a villain.

"The priorities of each board have been misdirected at best - one hell bent on protecting its image and the other hell bent on protecting its revenues. Allegations of intimidation, interference and some good old 'backroom bullying' have unfortunately been all too prevalent in this issue and other issues.

"Racism is a sensitive and very serious issue within our respective communities. The boards have failed in their responsibility to uphold their respect for this issue. They have failed the players, they have failed both the ICC's Code of Conduct and the ICC's Anti Racism Code, and they have failed the communities where racism is a real, live issue.

"After this latest episode and seeing how cricket handles this type of issue, why would any player possibly think about reporting any further instances of racism?" May asked. "You will be hounded by the press, you will be directly or indirectly will be intimidated by cricket officials and you will be hung out there to dry and be painted as the bad guy. Players should be approaching such matters with confidence that the system will support and protect you, not decimate and discredit you.

"It's the ICC's duty to protect the integrity of their Code. I am confident that the ICC will launch a thorough investigation into the alleged actions of both boards and key officials - there are serious allegations of intimidation and interference of those involved in this hearing -and such allegations must be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

"Cricket cannot have a repeat of this type of behavior. Boards and officials have a responsibility to the ICC, the game and the community. They must be held to these responsibilities and, just like the players, they must be held accountable for their actions."