Pawar Rubbishes Blackmail Charge on Harbhajan Judgement


New Delhi, Feb 2: Facing allegations of using its Financial clout to get a favourable verdict for Harbhajan Singh in the racism row, the BCCI has said that it had not blackmailed anybody and the judgement was that of the ICC.

“Australian media projected that we blackmailed the ICC by using our Financial clout. We had not blackmailed ICC or anybody.

“It is a bit funny after the matter was resolved, we have been accused of bulldozing the ICC. We have not issued a threat to pull out of the tour. So, where is the question of blackmailing anybody, leave alone ICC,” Pawar told Karan Thapar in Devil's advocate programme on CNN-IBN.

Pawar said he had only issued a statement that it was difficult to imagine an Indian player charged of racial abuse playing on a cricket field, and said it was not tantamount to issuing a threat.

“I was authorised to take any appropriate decision. I have said it is difficult for the board to digest that an Indian player would be charged of racial abuse and still playing on a cricket filed.

“We did not issue a threat but there was an uneasiness on our part to play cricket in those circumstances. After all, we had to think of the players' concerns also.”

Pawar said the board will not tolerate any unsporting behaviour by the players and warned them against using abusive language in future.

“I don't think that it is nice for an Indian player to use abusive language. They are ambassadors of the country. They should behave properly. We have told them the board will take serious view of any behaviour unbecoming of an Indian,” he said.

“See (Rahul) Dravid, (Anil) Kumble and (Sachin) Tendulkar, they are respected the world over for their on-field conduct. They should be role models for other cricketers,” Pawar said.

When asked whether the BCCI handled the issue properly, he said the whole country appreciated the stand taken by it.

“We protected the country's prestige, our players' image. It is difficult to accept that an India could be a racist. We were the ones who showed the world how to fight racism and it is unacceptable that an Indian be charged of racism. No Indian can be a racist,” he said.

“We were absolutely confident that Harbhajan did not use any racially abusive language, we were confident to get a favourable verdict from the appeals commissioner. I was told by Sachin Tendulkar that Harbhajan had not used any racially abusive language. He had used a Punjabi gali,” he said.

When asked why the board and the team management took so long to say that Harbhajan had used a Punjabi gali instead of the word “monkey”, Pawar said, “the matter was sub-judice and we did not want to issue any public statement.”

Pawar reiterated that an appeals judge can not take new evidence which were not considered by the lower authority.

“Collection of evidence is done by the lower court, that is the normal legal procedure. When a matter goes to superior court, it again considers all the evidence collected by the lower court and takes a decision. The appeals court can not consider additional evidence,” he said.

The BCCI Chief also refused to cast motives on the Australian players and denied that they were targeting Harbhajan to “trap” him.

“I don't see any motive (among Australian cricketers) in the issue. The matter has been resolved. We want to move on,” he said.


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