Sarfaraz handed 4-match suspension for breaching anti-racism code; PCB ‘disappointed’ with ICC decision

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Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed was handed a four-match suspension by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Sunday for breaching its Anti-Racism Code last week during a One-Day International (ODI) against South Africa. He will also have to undergo an education programme to understand the issue.

Ahmed was heard on camera making racist remarks directed at South African batsman Andile Phehlukwayo who, along with Hendrick van der Dussen, had guided Proteas to a series-levelling win against the green shirts in the second ODI on Jan 22.

As Phehlukwayo got lucky despite playing a risky shot, a stump mic picked up Ahmed as saying: “Hey black [man], where is your mother sitting? What prayer did you get her to say for you today?” (Abay kaalay, teri ammi aaj kahan baitheen hain? Kya parhwa ke aya hai aaj tu?)

Following the backlash, the skipper apologised to the South African team, and personally expressed regret over the incident to Phehlukwayo, who accepted his apology.

Shoaib Malik will be leading the team against Proteas in the fourth of five One-Day Internationals in South Africa today. Ahmed has been replaced by Mohammad Rizwan.

Ahmed will be missing the rest of the ODI series against Proteas, as well as the first two Twenty20 internationals against South Africa, according to the ICC press release.

The ICC’s Anti-Racism Code for Participants states that the following conduct, if committed by a participant at any time during, or in relation to, an international match, shall amount to an offence: “Engaging in any conduct (whether through the use of language, gestures or otherwise), which is likely to offend, insult, humiliate, intimidate, threaten, disparage or vilify any reasonable person in the position of a player, player support personnel, umpire, match referee, umpire support personnel or any other person (including a spectator) on the basis of their race, religion, culture, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin”.

As per Article 7.3 of the Anti-Racism Code, Ahmed will have to undergo an education programme to promote the understanding and awareness of issues directly relevant to the offence that he has committed, the ICC said in a press release, adding that it would “work with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to determine when and how this should take place”.

The incident was initially reported by Ranjan Madugalle of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees after he conducted initial investigations and spoke to both players after the match.

Following a further investigation, the ICC General Counsel Iain Higgins then determined that the player had a case to answer under the Code, and the player was issued with a charge notice on January 26.

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: “The ICC has a zero-tolerance policy towards the conduct of this nature. Ahmed has promptly admitted the offence, was regretful of his actions and has issued a public apology, so these factors were taken into account when determining an appropriate sanction.”

PCB notes decision with ‘utmost disappointment’
After the announcement by the council, PCB released a statement, saying it was “disappointed with ICC’s decision”.

“The PCB notes the ICC decision on Sarfaraz Ahmed with its utmost disappointment. PCB had anticipated that the matter had been resolved amicably between the two players and the two Boards following Sarfaraz Ahmed’s public apologies which were accepted by the player, the Board and South Africa cricket team,” said the statement by the board.

“The PCB will be pursuing this matter at the ICC forums with the objective to bring reforms to the Code, promoting amicable resolutions to issues as opposed to penalties. Having said that, the PCB reiterates its zero-tolerance approach to racist comments and behaviour.

“In consultation with Sarfaraz, it has been decided that he will return to Pakistan immediately. Shoaib Malik will captain the team for the remaining ODIs and T20 internationals of the series, while Mohammad Rizwan has been included in the T20I side.”

It is pertinent to mention that the Code talks about the option of conciliation under Article 4.3, saying: “[…] provided that the ICC consents to the matter being resolved by a process of conciliation.”

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