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News

Police launch criminal investigation into reports of racist abuse in Edgbaston crowd

Several supporters claim on Twitter that they suffered racist abuse from other fans on the fourth day

A general view of the action, England vs India, 5th Test, Birmingham, 4th day, July 4, 2022

An investigation has begun into claims of racist abuse in the crowd at Edgbaston  •  Getty Images

Police have launched a criminal investigation into claims of racist abuse among the crowd on the fourth day of the rescheduled fifth Test between England and India at Edgbaston.
Warwickshire and the ECB began their own investigations into the claims, which emerged publicly on Monday night when several supporters said on Twitter that they had suffered racist abuse from other fans. Their complaints were highlighted by Azeem Rafiq, the whistleblower whose allegations of a culture of institutional racism have seen Yorkshire charged with bringing the game into disrepute.
In a statement released immediately after England completed a seven-wicket victory before lunch on Tuesday's fifth day, Stuart Cain, Warwickshire's chief executive, said the club had provided police with CCTV images and information, adding that anyone prosecuted faced being banned from Edgbaston and other venues around the country.
"Any form of abuse isn't acceptable in life or sport," Cain said. "So, I'm angry about the fact that people think it's acceptable at an international cricket event and apologise for the distress it's caused.
"I have spoken to those who raised the issue on social media, the stewards managing the Eric Hollies Stand and the police. There has been a great atmosphere over five days involving more than 100,000 England and India fans but when this issue was reported to the stewards, they couldn't pinpoint where the alleged abuse was coming from so stewards and the police monitored the area until close of play.
"However, we actively support police action in alleged cases of abuse and have provided them with CCTV imagery and further information which has led to them launching a criminal investigation."
Anyone with information was asked to contact police on their national crime-reporting number, 101, and Cain urged fans to download the Edgbaston app allowing people to anonymously report abuse directly to the ground's control room which can then alert stewards and police.
"There was a separate incident reported via the app yesterday, which was dealt with in less than ten minutes and led to the ejection of three fans," he said. "For Saturday's Vitality IT20 versus India we will be writing to all fans to remind them of our zero tolerance approach to abuse... everybody should feel safe and welcome at Edgbaston, and we will continue to work hard to deliver this expectation."
The Bharat Army, the official team India supporters group, said on Twitter that they would work with Edgbaston officials to share fan feedback on their experiences, adding: "Sad to say many of our members experienced racist abuse from a very small minority of individuals... Thank you to those England fans who stood by us."
On Monday night, the official Edgbaston Twitter account said in a response to one of Rafiq's tweets: "We're incredible sorry to read this and do not condone this behaviour in anyway [sic]. We'll be investigating this ASAP."
The ECB also said in a statement: "We are very concerned to hear reports of racist abuse at today's Test match. We are in contact with colleagues at Edgbaston who will investigate. There is no place for racism in cricket. Edgbaston has been working hard to create a safe and inclusive working environment."