Racist slur not an issue but only from friends: Symonds

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Sydney, Jan 13 (UNI) Accusing Harbhajan Singh of overstepping the boundary, all-rounder Andrew Symonds said he does not mind the odd racist comment but only from friends.

Symonds has been at the centre of a racism row that has soured relations between the Australian and Indian teams. He was allegedly called a ''monkey'' by the Indian off-spinner Harbhajan who received a three-match ban.

The ban prompted the Indians to lodge an appeal amid threats to abandon the tour.

As the two teams prepared to battle it out in the third Test in Perth starting on Wednesday, Symonds declared he could tolerate racism - but only from those he knew.

''I'm not a sensitive person about it,'' he said.

''If you know me well you can have a joke to me about anything and any part of racism and I'll laugh.

''I'm not sensitive about it, but if I'm not your friend, if you're an opposition player or something like that, it is unacceptable.

However, the burly Aussie also said that even rival cricketers can make racist slur if he knows them well.

''Even with opposition players, if I do know them well and they want to joke about something like that, it doesn't stir me up, so what's happened is something I and the Australian boys have taken very seriously,'' Symonds was quoted as saying by the Sunday Telegraph.

''It (the racism affair) is a really difficult thing for me to comment on as it hasn't been totally resolved,'' Symonds said.

''Obviously, people are very interested in what's happened but they probably won't actually know exactly what's happened for quite some time, until the dust has settled.'' Symonds said he became used to hearing comments about his appearance during his school years and he was not easily offended.

''I'm very relaxed about life and I understand there are many different types of people,'' he said.

''You know, I used to have a bit of fun and people used to have a bit of fun with me in the playground when I was at school so I understand that kids are very blunt about that sort of thing. But it [racism] is one of those things that, in the modern day, is obviously very publicly unacceptable.'' Indian officials claimed that Symonds misinterpreted a derogatory Punjabi phrase as a racial gibe.

Claims surfaced on Friday that Singh called Symonds a ''Maa ki . . .'' in his native tongue, which translates as ''motherf-----''.

UNI XC TB KP0849

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