London, Jan 26 (IANS): Former Hampshire cricketer John Holder has hit out at Middlesex CCC and its chairman Mike O'Farrell, claiming the county cricket team 'do not want black people' at the club.
"I have a friend who is a member of Middlesex County Cricket Club, and he says he is ashamed to be a member because Middlesex is trying to become an all-white club, they don't want black people in there. It doesn't surprise me that the chairman of that club has made a statement like that," Holder quoted as saying by mirror.co.uk.
Holder labelled Middlesex chief Mike O'Farrell's testimony to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Tuesday as 'utter horse muck', a report published in mirror.co.uk said.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Holder said, "That statement from the Middlesex chairman is complete and utter horse muck. That reminds me, I came here back in the early 1960s, and around that time it was said publicly that black people didn't have the capacity, the team spirit, the desire to play professional football. What has happened in the English football league?"
"You look at most teams now during the football season, and there's a massive proportion of the players are black. Then again in education, it was publicly said for many, many years that black kids were mentally subnormal and almost unteachable. That is complete garbage... Middlesex over the years has trawled the high schools and clubs in South Africa to find white players to come and play for Middlesex."
When approached for comment by Mirror Sport, Middlesex CCC pointed to chairman O'Farrell's comments yesterday, insisting they were taken out of context and were never intended to inconvenience or hurt anyone. The club had 'nothing to add' in light of Holder's interview this morning.
The chairman O'Farrell apologised after claiming the lack of diversity in cricket was due to such groups having other interests, like football and rugby. His comments ignited an immediate backlash as players, fans and politicians blasted the 'lazy stereotype'.
Following his remarks, O'Farrell insisted he was misunderstood and that he never intended to inconvenience or hurt anyone.
In his statement yesterday, O'Farrell said: "I wholly accept that this misunderstanding is entirely down to my own lack of clarity and context in the answers I provided, and I am devastated that my comments have led to the conclusions some have made.
"For the purposes of clarification, I was aiming to make the point that as a game, cricket has failed a generation of young cricketers, in systematically failing to provide them with the same opportunities that other sports and sectors so successfully provide."
Asked if O'Farrell should be sacked, Holder said he should and also added that the apology is unacceptable. Holder also went on to say that he does believe it's of 'prime importance' that the clubs embroiled in the row, accept that racism exists.
"When white people start making comments about your colour in a sniggering and derogatory manner, it needs to be outlawed completely," Holder said. "If you're trying to create some sort of team spirit within a club - because the happier the players are playing together, the better they will play - and you've got someone constantly making nasty comments to non-white people, that is going to sour relations in the club and you're not going to go anywhere."