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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 04:08 GMT 05:08 UK
Australian cricket tackles racism
By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

England's barmy army on the last tour in 2002/3
Australian fans are still able to refer to the English as 'poms'
Cricketing authorities in Australia have announced a new zero-tolerance policy towards racism in the stands.

They have threatened offenders with lifetime bans from their grounds.

But Cricket Australia has said that the term "pom" can still be used against the English, who arrive in Australia to defend the Ashes in November.

Like cricket itself, "pom bashing" is something of a national sport - performed with particularly vehement enthusiasm when the Ashes are at stake.

In formulating its new zero-tolerance policy towards racism, Cricket Australia consulted no less a body than the country's Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission.

But after careful consideration, the commission ruled that the word "pom" - a term thought by many to have originated from the phrase "prisoner of his majesty" - was still permissible.

The body did, however, make a fine linguistic distinction, noting that pom was not hurtful when used in isolation, but possibly racist and humiliating when uttered in conjunction with other coarse language.

Asked whether fans would be evicted for using such insulting combinations, Cricket Australia offered a stout forward defensive, suggesting the question was merely hypothetical.

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