Former England batter Alex Hales has defended an old photo appearing to show him in black face at a fancy dress party, saying it was a tribute to late rapper Tupac Shakur.
The Sun newspaper published the image on Thursday and said it was taken at a New Year’s Eve party in 2009.
“In 2009, I attended a New Year’s Eve musical tribute fancy dress party,” Hales, 32, told The Sun.
“I dressed in tribute to my musical hero, Tupac Shakur, someone who I’ve admired from childhood and, at the time, did not realise the offensive nature of this.
“I echo my statement from earlier in the week and stress how much I deplore racism and discrimination in all its forms.”
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The Sun said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is investigating the matter.
Reuters was unable to get an immediate comment from the ECB.
Earlier this week, ex-Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq, a player of Pakistani descent, testified before a British parliamentary committee and spoke of the discrimination he faced while at Yorkshire, saying the sport in England was riddled with racism.
On Wednesday, Hales denied there was “any racial connotation” in the name of his dog Kevin after allegations by Rafiq.
Julian Knight MP, chair of the British parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS), said the image is “incredibly disturbing and offensive”.
“This picture — coming on the back of a week when cricket was shamed like never before — is incredibly disturbing and offensive,” Knight told The Sun.
“The very soul of English cricket is now at stake.”