Joe Root: How England's cricket captain hit homophobia for six in St Lucia
Dr Rory Magrath reflects on the fallout from the exchange between England captain, Joe Root and West Indies cricketer, Shannon Gabriel during the recent test match in the West Indies.
Sledging – unpleasant or personal remarks between players – is one of the less savoury aspects of cricket. Usually what happens on the field, stays on the field – but in the third test match between the West Indies in St Lucia recently, the England captain Joe Root publicly rebuked West Indies fast-bowler Shannon Gabriel for an ill-judged homophobic sledge by saying: “Don’t use that as an insult … there’s nothing wrong with being gay.” Gabriel later apologised and received a four-match ban from the ICC for “personal abuse”.
The exchange between the two players is evidence of how matters of equality and diversity vary across the world. Professional sport is, indeed, an international operation, where cultures clash and attitudes differ. While attitudes towards homosexuality in the UK are largely positive and, nowadays, even the norm, this is not always the case in non-Western states.