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7 Jun, 2021 16:37

UK prime minister Boris Johnson wades in to back England star Robinson after cricketer is canceled for racist and sexist tweets

UK prime minister Boris Johnson wades in to back England star Robinson after cricketer is canceled for racist and sexist tweets

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has waded into a row that has seen England cricketer Ollie Robinson suspended during a test series with New Zealand after the emergence of racist and sexist tweets posted during his teenage years.

After a strong start to his national team debut with a pair of wickets on opening day at Lord's, Robinson was caught up in a cloud of controversy and forced to make a groveling apology after play had concluded.

To press on with its investigation, the ECB now needs to determine whether Robinson had a contract when he sent out the offensive tweets in 2012 and 2013, which joked about Asian people smiling, saw him dub a "new Muslim friend" "the bomb" and claim that "females who play video games" have more sex.

Responding through a spokesperson, Johnson said he was "supportive" of comments made by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden which urged the cricketing governing body to "think again".

"As Dowden set out, these were comments made more than a decade ago written by someone as a teenager and for which they've rightly apologized," he said.

The ECB has reportedly confirmed it will not be responding to Dowden's comments, which also dubbed Robinson's tweets "offensive and wrong".

Former England captain David Gower stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Dowden on the matter.

"The ECB should say 'let's learn from this' and make him do the equivalent of community service," Gower insisted on BBC Radio 5 Live.

"He should go out there among county cricketers and spread the word that social media shouldn't be abused."

Robinson has been blasted by cricketing greats including former  national team skippers Nasser Hussain, who is of Indian descent, and Michael Vaughan, who were also scathing of the ECB for promising a full investigation into its mishandling of the debacle.

"Ollie has made a huge mistake," said current captain Joe Root on BBC Test Match Special. "He fronted up to the dressing room and the rest of the world, and he's very remorseful.

"It's a lesson to everyone in the game. More has to be done, [such as] continued education and learning about how to behave in society and within our sport.

"We've started doing a lot of good work as a team and we'll continue to do that. We want to make the game as inclusive and diverse as we possibly can and we'll continue to keep looking at finding ways to make that possible."

But Michael Carberry, who completed six Tests for England from 2010 to 2014, told the same station that Robinson "wouldn't be playing Test cricket" were it up to him.

"I don't believe this is a problem where you can rehabilitate someone," said Carberry.

"Robinson spoke about educating himself, but what is he talking about? I would be very interested to know."

Robinson's tweets could cover a time when he left Kent to join Yorkshire.

If he was out of contract when they were made, the investigation is set to be continued by the ECB. If he had a county contract at the time, however, the Cricket Discipline Commission, independent of the ECB, will take over.

"I want to make it clear that I'm not racist and I'm not sexist," Robinson said in his apology. "I deeply regret my actions and I am ashamed of making such remarks.

"I was thoughtless and irresponsible and, regardless of my state of mind at the time, my actions were inexcusable. Since that period, I have matured as a person and fully regret the tweets.

"Today should be about my efforts on the field and the pride of making my Test debut for England but my thoughtless behavior in the past has tarnished this.

"Over the past few years, I have worked hard to turn my life around. I have considerably matured as an adult.

"I would like to unreservedly apologize to anyone I have offended... I don't want something that happened eight years ago to diminish the efforts of my team-mates and the ECB as they continue to build meaningful action with their comprehensive initiatives and efforts, which I fully endorse and support.

"I will continue to educate myself, look for advice and work with the support network that is available to me to learn more about getting better in this area."

Vaughan thinks Robinson still has a future in the highest format of the game.

"He has got to go away, learn and educate himself – and become a better person for it," he said.

"In terms of what he has delivered on the cricket field, he is a Test-match player. He will certainly be back playing Test cricket," he predicted.

Also on rt.com ‘I’m not racist or sexist’: Fans slam ‘pathetic virtue signaling’ as star is axed for teenage tweets about Muslims, Asians & women