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England cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott has been forced to issue a grovelling apology on Twitter after he said he stood a better chance of a knighthood if he “blacked up”.
The gifted batsman was slammed for the remarks made to VIPs during a break in play at Saturday’s test match against the West Indies, according to the Mirror.
During a Q&A session he suggested knighthoods were given like “confetti” to West Indian greats, and told Sky Sports presenter Gary Newbon: “Mine’s been turned down twice. I’d better black me face.”
On Tuesday three messages posted to Boycott’s Twitter said: “Speaking at an informal gathering I was asked a question and I realise my answer was unacceptable.”
“I meant no offence but what I said was clearly wrong and I apologise unreservedly.
“I have loved West Indian cricket my whole life and have the utmost respect for its players.”
Onlookers were said to be stunned by the comments, with one telling the Mirror: “It was a crass comment. It was intended to get a laugh but it went down like a lead balloon. People were offended.”
Guests had paid up to £300 for luxury packages to attend the event at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
The source was quoted saying: “Is Boycott suggesting these great West Indians got knighthoods merely because of the colour of their skin? Birmingham is celebrated for its ethnic diversity and racial tolerance.
“We can do without dinosaurs like him spouting rubbish.”
11 West Indian cricketers have been honoured with knighthoods, including Sir Viv Richards, Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Curtly Ambrose.
Boycott, from Boston Spa, West Yorkshire, played 108 tests for England and scored 151 centuries, gaining him the OBE in 1980 before he retired in 1982.
MPs have commended him for a knighthood, however his conviction in France in 1998 for hitting former girlfriend Margaret Moore is thought to have blocked his chances of the honour.
He has denied hitting Ms Moore, claiming the conviction was a miscarriage of justice.
The Standard has contacted Mr Boycott’s representation for comment.
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