An investigation has been launched into allegations of racist abuse aimed at Indian fans during the fourth day of the fifth Test between India and England at Edgbaston, the ECB and Warwickshire County Cricket Club said.
Several Indian fans took to Twitter to report the racist behaviour they endured during the fourth day's play on Monday night. They claimed that some British fans hurled racial taunts at them.
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Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq, whose testimony to a British parliamentary committee last year led to an investigation into claims of institutional racism at Yorkshire and resulted in major reforms, retweeted some of the social media posts describing the racist behaviour. "Disappointing to read," he wrote.
The official Edgbaston Twitter account responded to Rafiq's tweet saying: "We're incredible sorry to read this and do not condone this behaviour in anyway. We'll be investigating this ASAP." Warwickshire later released a statement, stating they are investigating the incident. "I'm gutted by these reports as we're working hard to make Edgbaston a safe, welcoming environment for all," Stuart Cain, Chief Executive at Edgbaston said.
"Having seen the initial tweets, I've spoken personally to the gentleman who raised them and we're now speaking to the stewards in this area to establish what happened. Nobody should be subject to any form of abuse at Edgbaston. So, once we've got all the facts, we will make sure this issue is addressed swiftly," the statement added.
One spectator, who was in the Hollies Stand, alleged that the stewards refused to take any action despite several complaints. "Racist behaviour at @Edgbaston towards Indian fans in block 22 Eric Hollies. People calling us Curry C**** and paki b*******. We reported it to the stewards and showed them the culprits at least 10 times but no response and all we were told is to sit in our seats. @ECB_cricket."
"We were also fearful of our safety for women and children but no assistance when we left. This is unacceptable in today's society @BCCI #ENGvIND," a spectator said in a series of tweets.
Bharat Army, the official team India supporters group, said the spectators experienced abuse from a "small minority" of individuals. "Sad to say many of our members experienced racist abuse from a very small minority of individuals. We will work with @Edgbaston to share all your feedback. Thank you to those England fans who stood by us."
"I'm all for some good banter between fans but today was some of the worst abuse we've ever experienced at a match. Some disgusting racism ("you smelly ***** for example.) The stewards actually told the India fans to sit down whilst allowing the abuse to go ahead @Edgbaston," another spectator wrote.
The England and Wales Cricket Board said it was very concerned to hear about the report. "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," ECB tweeted.
Hosts England need 119 run to win the Test on the final day and draw the series 2-2.
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