‘Distasteful’ masks mark the latest low point in South Africa-Australia Test series

Australia's Mitchell Marsh celebrates taking the wicket of South Africa's Theunis de Bruyn. (REUTERS)
Updated 10 March 2018
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‘Distasteful’ masks mark the latest low point in South Africa-Australia Test series

PORT ELIZABETH: With relations between the teams already severely strained, two South African cricket officials have been photographed smiling with fans who were wearing masks designed to taunt Australia vice-captain David Warner.
The photograph, taken on the first day of the second test in Port Elizabeth on Friday, shows Cricket South Africa’s commercial and marketing head, Clive Eksteen, and communications head Altaaf Kazi standing and smiling with three men wearing masks with the face of New Zealand rugby international Sonny Bill Williams.
They are posing for the photo near a bar inside the St. George’s Park stadium. Eksteen and Kazi are wearing shirts and ties and their official cricket accreditations. Kazi has his arm around one of the fans.
Warner’s wife, Candice Warner, had a sexual encounter with Williams in a hotel toilet in Australia in 2007 before her relationship with the cricketer began. David and Candice Warner were married in 2015.
The masks, which Cricket South Africa labeled “distasteful” on Saturday when the picture became public, were being used by a small number of fans at the ground in Port Elizabeth to taunt Warner. He is currently a figure of hate in South Africa after his confrontation with South Africa wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock in a fractious first test in Durban last weekend.
While sports fans often engage in questionable behavior at stadiums, officials Eksteen, a former South Africa player, and Kazi are accused of condoning the taunting of Warner and his wife by South African supporters.
Candice Warner is with her husband on tour in South Africa and was at the ground on Friday with their two young daughters, according to Australian media, when the masks were being worn in the crowd.
“While CSA respects the rights of its fans to represent their own points of view, CSA does not associate itself with these actions and urges all ... supporters from refraining from being involved in distasteful or unwelcome actions that may impact the image of the sport and its supporters,” the South African cricket body said.
CSA said Eksteen and Kazi were now subject to “internal processes.” CSA president Chris Nenzani apologized to the Australian cricket board, the team management, players and their families for the incident.
Australian newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Australia team was “outraged” by the South African officials apparently condoning the masks. Candice Warner’s encounter with Williams was widely reported in the Australian media, which coined the phrase “toilet tryst” to refer to it.
Candice Warner gained recognition in Australia as an “Ironwoman” endurance athlete. She is also a model and celebrity TV star.
The mask saga in Port Elizabeth is the latest incident to overshadow the cricket contest between two of the leading teams in the world, a series which was expected to be fierce but has been undermined by verbal exchanges between players, off-field incidents, and resulting disciplinary cases.
The Warner and de Kock confrontation in the first test happened when de Kock, apparently frustrated at prolonged on-field verbal abuse from Warner, responded with a comment about Warner’s wife and the encounter with Williams. Warner then had to be restrained by teammates as he argued with de Kock on a staircase leading to the dressing rooms as players came off the field for a break.
That incident came to light after security camera footage of the players making their way back to the dressing rooms inside the stadium was leaked to the media.
Warner and de Kock were both fined and given disciplinary sanctions for the altercation. Australia’s Nathan Lyon also was punished for an over-zealous celebration of a wicket in that first test.
On Saturday, South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada was charged for another breach of the disciplinary code for intentionally bumping into Australia captain Steve Smith on the field during day one on Friday.
Rabada denies the contact was intentional but faces being banned for the final two tests of the series if found guilty.


From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

Updated 25 April 2019
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From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

  • Race will start in Jeddah and make a stop in Riyadh before ending in Qiddiya
  • Take a look back at the most momentous moments

LONDON: A new and exciting chapter in the prestigious history of the Dakar Rally is ready to be written as the world’s biggest and most challenging rally confirmed it will debut in Saudi Arabia in January 2020.

1977: Inspiration
Biker Thierry Sabine gets lost in the Libyan desert while competing in the Abidjan-Nice Rally. After being rescued from the sands on the verge of death, he vows to share the scale and magic of the desert with the whole world.

1978: A dream come true
On 26 December 1978, a field of 170 adventurers starts its 10,000-kilometer quest through Algeria, Niger, Mali, the Upper Volta, and Senegal. A total of 74 vehicles make it to the finish on Place de l’Indépendance in Dakar, with Cyril Neveu at the helm.

1983: Ickx on all fronts
Celebrities and the best drivers and riders in the world heed the call of the Dakar. The combination is a successful one, with the six-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Jacky Ickx and comedian Claude Brasseur taking the spoils in the fourth edition.

1986: Tragedy strikes
Thierry Sabine and Daniel Balavoine die in a helicopter crash alongside pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud, journalist Nathalie Odent and radio technician Jean-Paul Lefur. Gilbert Sabine, the father of the creator of the race, takes over as director.

1992: Africa from north to south
The Dakar takes a break from the capital of Senegal to pit the competitors against the challenge of a lifetime. The drivers and riders have to tackle a route of almost 12,500 kilometers through 11 countries to cross Africa from one side to the other and reach Cape Town in South Africa. Stéphane Peterhansel (motorbikes) and Hubert Auriol (cars) stand atop the podium at the end of the Odyssey.

1998: Peterhansel rolls a six
The biker with a blue bandana emerges victorious from a clash of titans with Orioli and Arcarons to become the undisputed master of the category in the 1990s. His sixth win catapults him past Cyril Neveu as the event record holder. “Peter” has since added seven car victories to his tally!

2000: At the foot of the pyramids
The Dakar marks the turn of the century next to one of the seven wonders of the world: the Great Pyramid of Giza. Reigning champions Richard Sainct (motorbikes) and Jean-Louis Schlesser (cars) both manage to defend their titles against this prestigious backdrop.

2001: Miss Dakar
No one suspects that this will be the last Paris–Dakar. In contrast, everyone sees Jutta Kleinschmidt, who had made her Dakar debut in 1988 on a motorbike, become the first woman to win the rally, this time racing at the wheel of a Mitsubishi 4×4. She remains the only female winner of the event to date.

2009: Rising from the ashes in Buenos Aires
The Dakar picks itself up and crosses the Atlantic to rise from the ashes. A new era dawns with 4 million spectators turning out in force to cheer on the drivers and riders in the majestic landscapes of Argentina and Chile.

2012: Pacific Challenge
After three years with a route starting and ending in Buenos Aires, the organizers break the mold with a finish on the Pacific coast of Lima, Peru.

2014: Dizzying heights
Bolivia becomes the 28th country to host the Dakar. The Altiplano and Salar de Uyuni introduce a new test for the competitors: extreme altitude, which takes a toll on both their bodies and their machines.

2020: Chapter 3
In the wake of its first foray into Paraguay in 2017, the Dakar adds the 30th country to its list. In Saudi Arabia, the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula, the competitors will face challenges such as the “Empty Quarter,” a pristine expanse that has never been explored fully before.