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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 15:26 GMT
Gibbs banned for racist comments
Herschelle Gibbs
Gibbs' comments were picked up on live television
South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs has been banned for two Test matches for making racist comments during the first Test against Pakistan.

The ban, imposed by match referee Chris Broad, was half the maximum penalty for an offence of this sort.

His words were picked up by the stump microphone and broadcast on television during day four in Centurion.

Cricket South Africa said the comments were made after fielder Paul Harris was abused by members of the crowd.

Several unruly spectators were ejected from the ground on Sunday's fourth day in Centurion.

"Herschelle says these remarks were for the ears only of his team-mates in his proximity," said chief executive Gerald Majola.

"He has apologised if he has caused offence to anyone."

Gibbs, who hit 94 in the first innings of the seven-wicket win at Centurion Park, near Pretoria, will miss the rest of the series against Pakistan.

The remark was racially offensive, the player admitted saying it and on that basis I am content that the punishment is appropriate

Chris Broad
match referee

CSA has also organised its own disciplinary hearing, set to take place on Tuesday and headed by former judge Mervyn King.

Rule 3.3 of the International Cricket Council code of conduct prohibits using " ... any language or gestures that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person's race, religion, colour, descent or national or ethic origin."

Gibbs pleaded not guilty to the level three charge but guilty to a level one offence, that does not mention racism.

Broad said: "I took into account the mitigating circumstances that the players were provoked by unruly spectators.

"However, the remark was racially offensive, the player admitted saying it and on that basis I am content that the level of the charge and the resulting punishment is appropriate.

"Cricket has a zero tolerance of racism, as has been illustrated by the introduction last year of an amended ICC Anti-Racism Code, and this decision is an illustration of that fact."

Herschelle was down at third man and he was copping a lot of abuse and I think even racial abuse

Graeme Smith
South Africa captain

The last leading player to be given a ban for a racist outburst was Australia's Darren Lehmann, who was suspended for five one-day matches in the run-up to the last World Cup after an incident against Sri Lanka.

Captain Graeme Smith said he could not condone Gibbs' action but he made strong comments about the circumstances which led to the incident.

"There was quite a lot of racial abuse from the Pakistan fans towards our players and I think that provoked a lot of what happened," he said.

"Herschelle was down at third man and he was copping a lot of abuse and I think even racial abuse.

"The worrying thing is that Pakistan always have a large support base around the world. Security needs to be looked at.

"There was an incident where Makhaya [Ntini] was hit on the head by a Pakistan flag going up the stairs.

"The guys were provoked and that is why they are angry but we understand that what Herschelle did was wrong."

This is the second time Gibbs has been banned from the international game.

He was suspended for six months in 2000 for accepting a bribe to play poorly in a match against India, although he subsequently went back on the agreement.

SEE ALSO
South Africa ease to opening win
15 Jan 07 |  Cricket
Pakistan in South Africa 2007
18 Jun 06 |  Future tour dates


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