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By Ayebare Mariam

At the end of the Cricket World Cup, there was one image I struggled to get out of my mind and it was of the England batsman Jason Roy refusing to leave the field after being incorrectly given out against Australia.

On social media, people were quick to tell me I was a killjoy who didn’t understand the sport or who couldn’t possibly have played it to any decent level. They were right about the second bit but not about the first.

I do understand the sport. I understand its joys and its all-consuming nature. I understand how, at times, it can feel as though it really is all that matters in life.

And because of this, I understand its frustrations and its capacity to feel very unfair.

But I also understand that this is part of it and by extension, the way you deal with injustice is part of it, too. 

This is where Roy failed. By saying — quite clearly — to the umpires that his dismissal was ‘f*****g embarrassing’, he crossed a very clear line of what is acceptable on a cricket field and I was surprised by how little comment his actions prompted in the media and indeed that he was subsequently allowed to play in the final.

And then I started to think about football. I started to think about how the abuse of officials goes on all the time, how it has been normalized and accepted over the years simply because nobody seems to tackle it.

At least Roy’s behavior at Edgbaston was unusual. On a football field, it would not have been and as we head into another season, it is appropriate to ask just why that is.

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