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Cricket fans have pointed to a “social media lynch mob” after England star Ollie Robinson was suspended over tweets he made when he was a teenager, with actor and political activist Laurence Fox calling the move a “f*cking joke”.
International newcomer Robinson suffered an awkward first week as an England player when a series of spectacularly ill-judged tweets he made at the age of 18 resurfaced on his first day with the squad, coinciding with his teammates wearing anti-discrimination t-shirts as part of an organized “moment of unity”.
Robinson appeared to have posted about Asian people smiling, joked that his “new Muslim friend” was “the bomb” and referred to “females who play video games” having more sex in the series of unearthed tweets from 2012 and 2013.
The 27-year-old’s impressive debut for his country was almost entirely overshadowed by the scandal, yet many cricket fans questioned whether the accusatory nature of social media had led to Robinson being unnecessarily banished in a subsequent move announced by bosses at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
Statement: Ollie Robinson suspended from all international cricket
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) June 6, 2021
“What a f*king joke,” Fox told his Twitter following of more than 287,000 in response to the news of the punishment meted out in light of posts made a decade ago. “Don’t apologize to the mob ever. I’m done with sport.
“Please tell me someone has started a petition about this. If the ECB drop him for mistakes he made a decade ago and for which he has apologized unreservedly, whoever is in charge has no fairness or forgiveness and needs to be fired.”
Fast bowler Robinson has returned to his club, Sussex, following his abrupt exile from international duty.
“The hounding of Ollie Robinson is really horrible. The aim of these social-media lynch mobs is not to make society a better place or to challenge racism where it really exists. It’s just about getting a cheap thrill from destroying someone’s life.”
Brendan O’Neill on @talkRADIO pic.twitter.com/QnJtPqPW7Z
— spiked (@spikedonline) June 4, 2021
“In the age of social media, disqualifying or sacking someone for past tweets should be rare in extreme circumstances,” said a fan.
“Ollie Robinson’s tweets from his teenage years were juvenile but being dropped by England… is wholly disproportionate.”
Another wrote: “Ollie Robinson being dropped by the England Cricket hierarchy for tweets he wrote over a decade ago is a truly, truly dangerous precedent.
Tom Harrison, ECB CEO regarding Ollie Robinson’s tweets “I don’t have words to express how disappointed I am that an England Men’s player has chosen to write tweets of this nature, however long ago that might have been” #Cricket pic.twitter.com/yt0ZRjX0Ce
— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) June 2, 2021
“Shame on everyone involved in such a pathetic virtue signaling act and destruction of an international career.”
Speaking on a national radio station, an editor said Robinson had been the victim of “hounding”.
“The aim of these social media lynch mobs is not to make society a better place or to challenge racism where it really exists,” he argued.
Disappointing. Michael Vaughan saying about Ollie Robinson’s tweets that the lesson is that tweets come back to haunt you, so be careful what you tweet. No. The lesson is don’t be racist or sexist. Then you won’t tweet stuff that will come back to haunt you.
— Debra Allcock Tyler #NeverMoreNeeded (@DebAllcockTyler) June 2, 2021
“It’s just about getting a cheap thrill from destroying someone’s life.”
A listener added: “Spot on, and shame on the ECB if they bow to this blatant woke witch hunt.
“The kid made a mistake. He knows he was wrong but an apology isn’t enough, is it?”
Just saw the tweets that Ollie Robinson sent, people rolling out excuses for him that it was 8yrs ago and he was 18… really shouldn’t wash. They’re absolutely awful and at 18 you should know better.
— James Mair (@jmair84) June 2, 2021
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said a “zero tolerance” policy was in place and promised a full investigation.
“I do not have the words to express how disappointed I am that an England men’s player has chosen to write tweets of this nature, however long ago that might have been,” he said.
“Any person reading those words – particularly a woman or person of color – would take away an image of cricket and cricketers that is completely unacceptable. We are better than this.”
Yes the tweets Ollie Robinson sent in 2012 are unacceptable and yes their emergence could not have come at a worse time. But we are talking about a teenager long before he had the responsibility an England career brings. A ‘full investigation’ by ECB is over the top IMO.
— Paul Newman 🌈 (@Paul_NewmanDM) June 2, 2021
Robinson appeared to offer a profuse apology for his bygone tweets, saying he had been “embarrassed” on “the biggest day of my career so far”.
“I want to make it clear that I’m not racist and I’m not sexist,” he insisted. “I deeply regret my actions and I am ashamed of making such remarks.
“I was thoughtless and irresponsible and, regardless of my state of mind at the time, my actions were inexcusable. Since that period, I have matured as a person and fully regret the tweets.
“Today should be about my efforts on the field and the pride of making my Test debut for England but my thoughtless behaviour in the past has tarnished this.
Spot on & shame on the ECB if they bow to this blatent woke witch hunt.The kid made a mistake..He knows he was wrong but an apology isn’t enough is it?.. .The racial one way street in full effect….destroy Ollie whilst AJ can spout his anti white prejudice with impunity.
— Papa Emiritus II (@papaemiritus2) June 5, 2021
“Over the past few years, I have worked hard to turn my life around. I have considerably matured as an adult.
“I would like to unreservedly apologise to anyone I have offended… I don’t want something that happened eight years ago to diminish the efforts of my team-mates and the ECB as they continue to build meaningful action with their comprehensive initiatives and efforts, which I fully endorse and support.
“I will continue to educate myself, look for advice and work with the support network that is available to me to learn more about getting better in this area.”
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