Jamaica, West Indies and Guyana Amazon Warrior batsman Brandon King is doing his part in supporting the Black Lives Matter and assisting communities by the COVID19 pandemic.

Fast-bowling legend-turned-legendary commentator, Michael Holding, effortlessly threw case studies here and there while backing up his views on the issue of racism.

Only one lead black commentator was a part of a recent study which highlighted racial bias in football commentary in Europe. 

Members of the West Indies squad knelt and held clenched fists as they showed full support for the fight against racism, inequality and injustice.

Before Wednesday’s start to the #RaiseTheBat series at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, both West Indies and England teams announced they would wear the Black Lives Matter logo on the collars of their playing shirts.

They further demonstrated support by kneeling on the field and on the boundary.

All members of the West Indies squad also wore black gloves. In addition, a flag was flown over the team’s balcony with the composite logos of Cricket West Indies and Black Lives Matter on the traditional maroon background.

Speaking ahead of the series, West Indies Head Coach Phil Simmons said:

PULLQuote: “It means a hell of a lot to all the players and all the staff on the tour. But it's not just about now, it's about life on the whole.”

The Black Lives Matter emblem was designed by Alisha Hosannah, the partner of Troy Deeney, captain of English Premier League side Watford. 

He was contacted by CWI and permission was granted for the logo to be displayed on the collar according to ICC regulations.

The logo has a clenched fist in place of the letter “A” in the word “Black”. It has also been used on the shirts of all 20 Premier League clubs since football returned behind closed doors following the break for COVID-19.

Phil Simmons, a sort of gentle giant, was an explosive batsman and a more than useful allrounder for the West Indies and at the first-class level before he turned to coaching.

His greatest achievements as a player came while playing league cricket in England.

One season, playing for Leicestershire, he scored 1244 runs and took 56 wickets. In that season, Simmons was said to have been bowling very quickly, a change from his generally medium-paced efforts.

But before those exploits, Simmons, who played in England during the 1980s and ‘90s, said while playing in the Northeast of the country, he faced quite a bit of racial abuse.

"It's not a nice thing to face. Especially in the leagues where you're by yourself sometimes. It affected my wife when I was up there. It's not a nice thing.

"I played in three or four different leagues. It was one particular league up in the northeast."

Simmons was speaking before the West Indies revealed it will be using a Black Lives Matter logo created by partner of Watford City football club captain, Troy Deeney, Alisha Hosannah.

At the time, Simmons was as yet unsure about how the West Indies would show its unity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The West Indies are in England for the #RaisyourBat series for the Wisden Trophy.

The three-Test series begins July 8 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton with two other games scheduled for Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester.

As human beings, we are attracted to extravagance.

We like to be a part of the big show. Whether it be protests or boycotts, parades or marches, or social media hashtags, we crave the solidarity of community in championing our causes… and we react.

And let’s be fair, that has its place. Martin Luther King’s adaptation of Mahatma Gandhi’s design in the 1950s and ‘60s worked. Peaceful protests elicited an overreaction from law enforcement which in turn got the attention of the President of the United States. And racism was cured.

Ok… so racism wasn’t cured. There is still a lot of work to do.

However, the solution is not going to come from a showpiece.

So, when the English Premier League decided to mandate that every team in their division wear “Black Lives Matter” on the back of their shirts instead of their names, it really ground my gears.

Maybe I was uncomfortable with being confronted with the issue head-on with the return of sport, in the aftermath of wall-to-wall news coverage of an ever-changing world. Football was to be my release.

What irks me the most, though, is that we have seen this all before from the Premier League.

Didn’t they launch a “No Room for Racism” campaign last year? And wasn’t there a “Kick It Out” campaign before that?

In both instances, it was just an extravagant show. “Kick It Out” is English football’s equality and inclusion organization, which was established as a body in 1997.

The problem is, the body has no power to impose sanctions on individuals or groups who are actually found guilty of racism at football games.

Now if “Kick It Out” can’t be trusted to make straightforward decisions, how is the Premier League going to assist in rooting out systemic racism which sees an obvious lack of black stakeholders in management, ownership and coaching in the UK?

The fight against racism in football needs to go up a few notches behind the scenes. Institutionalizing protest gestures like kneeling before the start of games robs the potency of the moment. And wearing “black lives matter” shirts seems like a total mockery to me, because it makes no difference.

Probably because acknowledging that black lives actually matter is the lowest denominator one can request in sport and in life.

In doing research for this article I came upon this link to the UEFA website which speaks about social responsibility and racism, only for it to hilariously return the message that the page doesn’t exist.

The irony is telling.

The sport’s governing body FIFA has run far from the issue of mixing politics and sport. And in a sense I understand, politics and sport should not mix.

However, the elevation of the black race in the quest for opportunity in a sport should not be deemed, politics. It is the right thing to do.

Football, after all, is a global game and representation in the elite leagues in Europe matters.

So provide opportunities for black coaches especially from poorer countries to get accredited; and for black players especially from third-world countries to further their careers.

It can be done, but the message must be engraved on the hearts of those who can enforce the change, and not on the backs of those who can’t.

Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

West Indies captain Jason Holder revealed that he is yet to personally face racist abuse, while on the pitch, but was once shocked at the vitriol directed towards South African cricketer Hashim Amla.

The issue of racial injustice has been at the forefront of global discussion in recent weeks, following the killing of an African American George Floyd by a white police officer.  Derek Chauvin was filmed with his knee on the neck of Floyd for nearly nine minutes in a video that prompted anguish and outrage around the globe.

The issue has morphed into a broader discussion on the need for an end to racial discrimination and inequality, with several athletes joining the cause.  Holder noted that although it was important to be professional, the circumstances can be tough for players to take.

“Look, as a player, you just got to be professional and shut it out, but some comments are such that it’s hard to block out. You know some of those comments sometimes make people retaliate,” Holder said during an Instagram talk with sports commentator Arun Venugopal.

“I haven’t personally had to bear the brunt of any of them, but I have seen things with people like Moeen Ali and Hashim Amla [who were subjected to racist attacks]. I have met Hashim Amla, I have played cricket with Hashim Amla. If you probably think I am a nice man, he is the ultimate nice guy, man. He is the nicest person that I have ever met, swear to God,” Holder added.

“And to hear people get down on Hashim and say things or even bring racial comments into it, it is just sad, man. It’s just sad to see the level of intelligence of people,” he added.

 

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