Sydney: Cricket Australia is lobbying the International Cricket Council for a mediation phase in cases of racial vilification in international cricket, reports said Thursday.
The move is seen as an attempt to avoid a repeat of the political crisis that erupted when Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh was accused of racially taunting Australian Andrew Symonds during their Australian tour early this year.
Melbourne's Age newspaper said the proposal was debated at the ICC's annual meeting in Dubai last week, where Australia argued the existing process failed all parties.
Cricket Australia is advocating a system in which mediation would ideally be confidential, and prosecution as a last resort, the newspaper said. "The ICC is understood to have been unconvinced, but CA is determined to keep pushing for a less combative process that, in the first instance, aims for the offender to understand why a particular remark is unacceptable," it said.
"We think this is important, and we're continuing to argue the case," Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young told the newspaper. "It is consistent with our view, and the ICC's view, that cricket should have a zero-tolerance approach to racism in sport. We need to understand what we need to do to encourage cultural acceptance, and that it's more complicated than simply writing a list of rules.
"We recommended that there should be an intermediate step that recognises the complexity and the need for a more sophisticated process that takes the high drama out of it. Genuine, properly structured, well-founded mediation can have really good results. You can achieve reconciliation and move on."
Harbhajan was initially suspended by ICC match referee Mike Procter, after Australian players testified they had heard him call Symonds a "big monkey" during the second Sydney Test last January.
The Indian board threatened to abandon the tour unless Harbhajan was cleared, and the ban was overturned on appeal after the charge was downgraded to verbal abuse.
The Australian cricketers were reportedly angered by the fallout from the Sydney Test, and felt badly let down by Cricket Australia, who they believe succumbed to pressure from India.
"Ricky (Ponting) did exactly what he was instructed to do, and it all went pear-shaped from there," Australian Cricketers' Association chief executive Paul Marsh told The Age. "Why would any player put himself in that position?"
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