Cricket: ECB to undertake social media review following Ollie Robinson’s offensive Tweets

The England and Wales Cricket Board said it hoped that cricket could emerge from ‘this difficult period’ to be ‘more inclusive and welcoming to all’

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has opened the door to possible disciplinary sanctions after announcing a social media review “to address any historical issues” following the Ollie Robinson Twitter storm.

Robinson’s Test debut at Lord’s was marred by the emergence of racist and sexist tweets posted several years earlier and he is currently suspended pending an investigation.

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A second unnamed player was then found to have sent offensive tweets while under the age of 16, while a number of other more senior players including James Anderson, Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan have been criticised for potentially offensive messages.

The England and Wales Cricket Board put out a statement following the emergence of offensive Tweets by cricketer Ollie Robinson (Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images/Shutterstock)

‘Determined to be more inclusive’

The ECB board met on Wednesday and resolved to delve further into the issue of past indiscretions, up to and including action against those who have previously erred.

A statement read: “The board agreed to the executive’s recommendation for a social media review to address any historical issues, remind individuals of their personal responsibilities going forward, and help them learn lessons along the way.

“The board was clear that this process would not prevent further disciplinary action in the future, should that be required, under the applicable processes, but it is hoped that the game can emerge from this difficult period stronger and determined to be more inclusive and welcoming to all.”

The nature of the review is said to be “collaborative” and will involve administrators, players, coaches and the Professional Cricketers’ Association.

Ian Watmore, chair of the ECB, restated the organisation’s commitments on diversity and inclusivity which have been cast in a difficult light in recent times.

“As the national governing body, we must steer a path between helping individuals project an inclusive image, educating them on what is expected of them and allowing them the space to express themselves to the public. We must also investigate their actions and sanction them when they fall short,” he said.

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Investigation into players

On Friday (11 July), Lancashire embarked upon an investigation of their own after five players were named by the Lancashire Telegraph for posting discriminatory material on their social media accounts.

It would be a huge surprise if the remaining 17 first-class counties, as well as the ECB’s age-group teams, were not also looking into the subject as a matter of urgency.

PCA chief executive Rob Lynch, who represents the country’s players, said: “The last week has been an important period for all professional cricketers across our sport. We are committed to working with our members and the ECB on further education, and there is always more that we can do.

“We will consult with our members and work with the ECB to develop terms of reference for a social media review, which in turn, will lead to better insight and an opportunity to improve.”

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What did Ollie Robinson say in his Tweets?

The cricketers Tweets were found and shared online on Wednesday 2 June, on the first day of the opening Test against New Zealand at Lord’s.

In one, Robinson wrote: “Not going to lie, a lot of girls need to learn the art of class,” while another said: “My new Muslim friend is the bomb #wheeyyyyy”.

In a pre-prepared statement, Robinson apologised for the posts, saying: “On the biggest day of my career so far, I am embarrassed by the racist and sexist tweets that I posted over eight years ago, which have today become public.

“I want to make it clear that I’m not racist and I’m not sexist. I deeply regret my actions, and I am ashamed of making such remarks. I was thoughtless and irresponsible. I am sorry, and I have certainly learned my lesson.”

Robinson added at a press conference: “It was a pretty low point in my life [at the time[ and I regret that massively. I didn’t know [the Tweets] were still there and I just want to apologise to everyone. I regret it hugely.”

Additional reporting by PA.