Otago cricket 'seriously regrets' white slogan

Otago Cricket has stopped its controversial "It's all white here" marketing campaign to promote the first cricket test between New Zealand and the West Indies beginning on December 1 at Dunedin.

The slogan which drew fire from the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) was intended as a variation on a themed promotion of a few years ago in which New Zealand fans were encouraged to "black out" in support of the Black Caps.

"The campaign has been clearly deemed by a number of people to be offensive, which we seriously regret. We will not proceed with it," Otago Cricket chief executive Ross Dykes told NZPA today.

"We just wanted a catchy phrase to help sell the game. It was all based around the association of the colour with (test) cricket," he added.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan said NZC was contacting the West Indies Board and WIPA to express regret over the controversy.

It was unfortunate that concerns over the Otago Cricket Association's "white out" campaign had overshadowed preparation for the upcoming tour, he added.

"New Zealand Cricket absolutely accepts the assurances of all concerned in Dunedin that the promotion was put together with the best of intentions and with no racial overtones -- it was a way of celebrating the biggest test match in Dunedin for many years," Vaughan said.

"At the same time I appreciate that it had the potential to be misinterpreted and I apologise to the West Indies players and to the officials for any offence taken - none was intended."

Vaughan said cricket fans throughout New Zealand were looking forward to the tour.

"Teams from the West Indies have always been popular visitors and I have no doubt the squad will get a friendly welcome wherever they go - especially in Dunedin."

In a statement on the West Indies cricket website, WIPA said: "This slogan which, in our view, may be reasonably perceived to be loaded with racial innuendoes has quite naturally raised eyebrows in many places, including New Zealand itself.

"It comes at a time when the spectre of racial intolerance is insidiously and, at times, openly appearing in major sporting events.

"We at WIPA and its members wish to disassociate ourselves from any perceived contributing factor.

"Whatever may be the reasons advanced by the bodies in New Zealand for this promotional approach, innocently as some may claim, it appears to be totally insensitive and myopic as to the ramifications.

"We request that the West Indies Cricket Board take up this issue as a matter of urgency with New Zealand Cricket, conveying our deep concern about participating in an event with such a `perceived' racial slogan."

Dunedin-based former commentator, Billy Ibadulla, told Cricinfo the idea was ill-conceived. "The connection between the phrase and white clothing is stupid at best, and grievous at worst," he said.

Not all observers were so strongly against the idea, however.

Former New Zealand batsman and current national selector Glenn Turner said people could be "too politically correct". "It's about the tone. I don't think anyone had negative intention here," Turner said. "But whether it's a bit loose or sloppy is open to comment."




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