AUCKLAND // The New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan has been forced to apologise for a controversial campaign promoting New Zealand's Test match against the West Indies in Dunedin next month. The Otago Cricket Association and Dunedin City Council's "it's all white here" campaign to promote the match taking place at the University Oval between Dec 11-15 has been widely condemned despite insistence from the association and council that there had been no racism intended.
They stressed the white-out campaign had been a way to encourage fans to wear white and shops to dress their windows in white - the traditional colour of Test cricket - but Vaughan admitted it was unfortunate that concerns had overshadowed preparations for the upcoming tour. "New Zealand Cricket accepts the assurances of all concerned in Dunedin that the promotion was put together with the best of intentions and with no racial overtones," he said.
"At the same time I appreciate that it had the potential to be misinterpreted and I apologise to the West Indies players and officials for any offence taken none was intended." The West Indies Players Association has strongly condemned the campaign and, in a statement, their boss Dinesh Ramnarine said: "This slogan which, in our view, may be reasonably perceived to be loaded with racial innuendoes has quite naturally raised eyebrows in many places, including New Zealand itself.
"It comes at a time when the spectre of racial intolerance is insidiously appearing in major sporting events. Whatever may be the reasons, innocently as some may claim, it appears to be totally insensitive and myopic as to the ramifications." The West Indies are scheduled to play two Tests, two Twenty20 internationals and five one-day internationals. * PA Sport