Two senior Cricket South Africa officials face disciplinary action after posing with spectators wearing masks showing the face of All Black rugby player Sonny Bill Williams during the second Test against Australia on Friday.
The masks were likely to have been worn to taunt Australian batsman David Warner, whose wife reportedly had an encounter with Williams in 2007 before meeting Warner.
There have been calls on social media for spectators to wear the masks following a row between Warner and South Africa’s Quinton de Kock during the first Test, which Warner blamed was sparked when De Kock insulted his wife.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Cricket South Africa distanced itself from the action of the officials, marketing manager Clive Eksteen and communications manager Altaaf Kazi. Eksteen is a former South African Test player.
The two officials were photographed with three spectators wearing the masks at the match at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
The statement said CSA had taken “immediate precautionary steps” against the officials and that there would be an internal disciplinary process.
CSA president Chris Nenzani apologised to the board of Cricket Australia and its officials, team management, players and their families.
The statement urged South African supporters to refrain from “being involved in distasteful or unwelcome actions that may impact the image of the sport and its supporters.”
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian team were “outraged” by a decision to allow the masks to be brought into the ground.
The move sparked some strong reactions on Twitter as well.