Graeme Swann made a personal decision to apologise for the “crass and thoughtless” rape reference he included in a social media message.
Swann’s comment on his brother and former Northamptonshire team-mate Alec’s Facebook page has been heavily criticised by the chief executive of the charity Rape Crisis, who urged him to apologise to all victims of the sex crime.
The England off-spinner, part of the team soundly beaten again in Perth to lose the Ashes in only 14 days of cricket, does not appear to have intended his remark for a worldwide audience. He told his brother, and mutual friends, that he would rather have been back home in the midlands at a pop concert than “being a***-raped in Perth” by Australia.
The page, however, has a public profile and is therefore openly accessible to anyone who decides to view it via the internet.
Within hours, Swann acknowledged he had made an error of judgment, and duly apologised via Twitter.
“Sorry to anyone who was offended by my comments in the papers today,” he wrote. “[They were] crass and thoughtless of me in the extreme.”
Swann’s employers at the England and Wales Cricket Board declined to comment yesterday about the issue, apart from confirming informally that the decision to issue an apology was his alone and not an instruction from the governing body. Rape Crisis chief executive Yvonne Traynor had already made it clear that she, on behalf of the charity, found the cricketer’s comments deeply inappropriate.
“We are appalled that Graeme Swann equates a cricket match with the devastatingly serious crime of rape,” she said. “It is the duty of people in the public eye to make sure their own distorted views are kept to themselves and not shared with the general public. These comments lack compassion and intelligence, and he should apologise to anyone who has suffered from this heinous crime.”
Swann has since apologised universally, to anyone offended rather than directly to rape victims. It remains to be seen if this is therefore the end of the matter for him.
The 34-year-old has endured a miserable Ashes series so far, taking only seven wickets at a cost of 80 runs each, in England’s three successive wide-margin Test defeats.
He remains a popular public figure nonetheless, noted for his wit and wisecracks in press conferences, the broadcast media and his column for a tabloid newspaper.
He and fast bowler James Anderson collaborated on England’s last Ashes tour, the famous triumph of 2010-11, to post ‘Swanny’s Diaries’ online.
The largely light-hearted content caught the mood and imagination of a nation watching England win the Ashes Down Under for the first time in almost a quarter of a century, and three years on an updated version of the diaries is being sponsored by Yorkshire Tea. However, during a troubled tour this winter, just one edition of ‘Swanny’s Diaries’ has been completed.