Sir Viv Richards called on the ICC and FIFA to move more swiftly to rid sports of racism. "This matter of black players being subjected to abuse must be urgently addressed by the people who are in charge-the footballing body, the cricketing body," Richards said.

"There must be plain-clothed officers placed in the crowd, and when you hear that first remark an example must be made of the perpetrator and it must be done swift and quick. I believe the governing bodies have been sitting around for too long."

He was reacting to recent incidents on the international sporting stage. During last week's first cricket Test between Australia and South Africa in Perth, South African officials said that some fans racially abused their players. Cricket Australia announced that unruly spectators will face on-the-spot fines and football-style bans as part of a crackdown, and the ICC announced a zero-tolerance policy toward anyone making racist remarks and gestures.

"This thing must stop and the authorities must treat this like someone with a nuclear bomb," Richards said. "If you have the fabric which is human civilisation and human society being brought down because of color and race, to me that is like a killer with a nuclear reactor in his hand."

Richards, known as "the Master Blaster" during a 121-Test career from 1974-91, was regarded as a strong advocate for black people and other minorities, and the advancement of their cause.