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10 worst displays of sportsmanship

  • We profile some of the most unsporting moments across sport, both on and off the playing field.
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Modified 24 Apr 2016, 21:54 IST

Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds, ‘Monkeygate’, Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008

Andrew Symonds Harbhajan Singh
When ‘monkeygate’ reached its apex, it was Harbhajan who was on strike

The incident tarnished the name of Indian cricket, and Harbhajan Singh went down in history for the racial abuse meted out to Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds.

Symonds, who is of indigenous descent, has faced racism before, and unfortunately in India. With Australia touring the country for an ODI series the year before, Symonds was the subject of 'monkey' chants from members of the Indian public.

Matters intensified at the Border-Gavaskar trophy. With Harbhajan and Sachin Tendulkar in a vital partnership for India, attempting to reconsolidate the side after a series of wickets had tumbled in succession.

Harbhajan is said to have tapped bowler Brett Lee with his bat after hitting him to the boundary, with Symonds saying he spoke to Harbhajan in retaliation to his behaviour towards Lee.

Symonds said he then told Harbhajan ‘exactly what I thought of his behaviour,’ which prompted a hot-tempered Harbhajan to react with profanity. Although Symonds and Ricky Ponting both heard the word 'monkey', which given the context it is not unreasonable to see Symonds construe as a racial insult, non-striker Sachin Tendulkar later clarified in his autobiography that Harbhajan had used an extremely derogatory Hindi profanity addressed to the recipient’s mother.

Given the close pronunciation of that profanity with the word ‘monkey’, Harbhajan was reported to match referee Mike Procter, and eventually handed a three-match ban. That ban was later lifted due to insufficient evidence, which meant Harbhajan was not charged with racial abuse, but the lesser misdemeanour of using abusive language on the pitch and fined 50% of his match fee.

The pair have been teammates in the IPL, with both signed to the Mumbai Indians.

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Published 24 Apr 2016, 21:04 IST
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