Darren Sammy raises IPL racism red flag
- Updated: June 8, 2020
India seems to have lapped up the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign but is Indian sport truly immune to the racism virus?
Darren Sammy, two-time T20 World Cup-winning West Indies captain, revealed on Sunday that he faced racist taunts during his Indian Premier League (IPL) stint with Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013 and 2014.
“I just learnt what that ‘kalu’ meant when I played for Sunrisers in the IPL. They called me and (Thisara) Perera by that name. I thought it meant strong stallion. My previous post tells me something different and I’m angry,” Sammy wrote on his Instagram page on Saturday.
Though he did not specify who called him so, Sammy added: “Oh so that’s what that meant when they called me and @tp_perera ‘kalu’ in India when we played for Sunrisers.
“I just thought they were calling me strong black man… I’m more piss (sic) now.”
Senior members of the Sunrisers Hyderabad team management didn’t want to comment publicly on the incident and said it was probably the fans – and not any player – who had racially abused the duo by calling him ‘kalu (black-face)’.
T Suman, who has also played for SRH, played down the incident, saying, “If at all (this has happened), it must have been said in jest.”
Across disciplines in sport, mostly in football, strong action has been taken against teams – with even stadiums being banned – if allegations of racist abuse are proven.
Indian cricket board (BCCI) treasurer Arun Dhumal, on his part, made it clear that the board, as a matter of policy, does its best to ensure such incidents don’t happen.
“It’s something that has happened long back and we don’t know who is responsible. But BCCI always educates its players not to indulge in any racist exchanges. And don’t forget, we don’t necessarily have a control over fans, but we will surely try to ensure such things don’t happen,” Dhumal told TOI.
Sammy, on his part, urged the ICC to take note of such instances. “@ICC and all the other boards, are you guys not seeing what’s happening to ppl like me? Are you not gonna speak against the social injustice against my kind? This is not only about America,” he had tweeted earlier.
“Not only about America” becomes crucial in this context because there is a general perception that the issue is essentially about the west. Irfan Pathan, who was a teammate of Sammy in SRH in 2014, harped on that point. “Though I was not aware that this happened to Sammy, I have seen that some of my south Indian friends have faced racial remarks when they come to play in the northern part of India,” Pathan said.
“I have seen it myself when I have been involved in those matches and I never used to appreciate those things from the crowd. It might only be a small number of people who pass these remarks. It’s all about education and having information on different cultures. When they pass such remarks, they are not even aware that they are doing the wrong thing. They think they are being funny.”
Pathan stressed on the fact that such incidents should not happen. “Education is the biggest thing in this. When you are educated, you get a lot of information about these matters as well. There are a lot of things we need to be taught as a society,” Pathan said.