Photo Credit: ICC
On International Women’s Day, the ICC has pledged to take steps to ensure the sport’s digital channels are a safe space for women around the world whilst calling on cricket’s one billion fans to join its efforts.
The ICC will work with Members to deliver a plan to better protect female players and officials from sexist, misogynistic and other abuse on social media during its global events. This follows recent episodes at both the ICC U19 and senior Women’s T20 World Cups where players were subjected to these sort of attacks.
As part of the commitment to reducing gender based digital abuse, the ICC will launch a dedicated in-tournament monitoring service to tackle the problem combined with an education programme at U19 events. It will also work with Members to develop a common policy to minimise the impact of online abusers.
Sinalo Jafta, South African wicketkeeper, who recently spoke about the impact of online abuse on her mental wellbeing said:
“I’ve been subject to a lot of online bullying over the last three years. I’ve always thought that people should be allowed to have their own opinions but where does one draw the line? I think that ICC pledging to do something about this now is actually going to protect me and also the players around me.
“Truth is, I hit rock bottom. I isolated myself from everyone; social media, WhatsApp and anything electronic. I just saw it as the enemy. There were so many times I wanted to respond and say is this really what it has come to. I felt like I didn’t have a voice, and if I retaliated there would be even more abuse and I couldn’t handle it for the life of me.
“But I feel like something has to be done because we don’t plan to make mistakes, but mistakes happen. When does it stop, when are people ever going to be held accountable? I’m so pleased about what the ICC are pledging to do because it will protect the younger generation coming up. I’m grateful and I can’t wait to work with the ICC going forward on this.”
Pakistan’s Aliya Riaz said: “I welcome this step by the ICC to protect us from the online abuse. Online abuse and trolling is amplifying day-by-day and there is an urgent need to deal with it.
“No matter how much one tries to look away, it does have an impact on one’s mental wellbeing. As a cricketer, we face more tough days than good ones. To be at the receiving end of online bullying leads to a downward spiral. While having negative impact on us mentally, it also affects our on-field performances.
“I hope people will realise that their one derogatory comment or one belittling meme can adversely impact a life or an even an entire family. It should be made known to everyone that nobody likes a bully.”
England’s Kate Cross added: “It’s really important that we do everything we can to take a stand against online trolls. It’s not a problem confined to women’s cricket, it’s a society-wide thing, but it can often make life online for a female athlete unpleasant and toxic.
“I know lots of people choose to not engage with social media in order to avoid unpleasant comments but we shouldn’t have to walk away. I support all attempts to try and make the online world one in which people feel safe to be themselves, and equally other people are held to account for trolling and abusing others.”
Ireland’s Orla Prendergast said: “I’m fully in support of the ICC’s pledge to minimise the impact of trolls, abuse and aggression in women’s cricket. Each of the above has no place in our game and will only have negative impacts on those affected.
“The introduction of this should have a positive impact on both current players and future generations coming through and is a welcome addition to our game.”
ICC CEO Geoff Allardice said: “Cricket truly is a sport for all and accelerating the growth of the women’s game is a strategic priority for us. Every year millions more fans are enjoying the women’s game but sadly that has also seen a significant increase in digital abuse towards female players, match officials and administrators.
“Online toxicity or discrimination of any sort has no place in our sport and on International Women’s Day we want to play our role in embracing equity. We will do more to protect players in the digital space at ICC events, whilst working with our fans we can ensure cricket is a safe and vibrant environment for everyone.”
Photo Credit: Cricket Australia