Never call someone a Kolpak

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Bad news for Slovakian handball goalkeeper, Maros Kolpak, whose name has apparently morphed into a racist insult. Yorkshire’s Andrew Gale has been charged with a level three offence for firing the word at Lancashire’s Ashwell Prince.

A level three offence involves “using language or gestures that offends race, religion, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.”

We suppose Kolpak refers to non-British national origin so in that sense the charge fits.

We’ve written more for Cricinfo – although if you’re expecting a serious dissection of the issue, be warned that the article features Giles Clarke crouching behind a desk.


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  1. If Kolpak is a “national or ethnic origin” then they could have team. Of course if it ever played they wouldn’t qualify as Kolpaks any more. And thus the ECB disappears (further) up its rear.

  2. Plenty of terms that are not inherently racist can be made into racist comments by the context and tone. For example:

    You are an immigrant.
    You’re a worthless fucking immigrant.

    According to Cricinfo, the exchange “included a rejoinder to return to his own country, followed by a disparaging use of the term Kolpak”. So it seems unlikely that Gale said,

    “Are you playing here under Decision 94/909/ECSC, EEC, Euratom of the Council and the Commission of 19 December 1994, commonly known as the Kolpak ruling?”

    and more likely said,

    “Fuck off back to Kolpak land, you fucking Kolpak” (paraphrased and / or made-up).

    A Level 3 Offence is one where someone uses “language or gesture that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person’s race, religion or belief, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation or background.” I would suggest that, depending on the exact words and the way they were used, there is every possibility that Gale is guilty, despite there being nothing inherently racist in the word Kolpak.

  3. Forgive me if I’m wrong but when he first got his ban people said that he had form in this regard, which suggests 1 or 2 things.

    1) Andrew Gale is a gobby little so-and-so whose punishment is for a course of events over months/years.

    or alternatively

    2) Andrew Gale is a gobby little so-and-so whose behaviour could have been nipped in the bud if anyone had the cojones to deal with this stuff previously.

    1. Wasn’t Gale tutored in the Darren Lehmann finishing school?

      Without knowing exactly what was said, it is hard to judge but not hard to imagine.

      Andrew Gale needs to learn a lesson (indeed probably already has been punished severely given that he has missed out on the climax of what might be his career pinnacle)…

      …and the ECB needs to avoid over-reaction, given the severity of the punishment already meted out, if this matter is not clear cut.

  4. It’s a strange one. On the cricinfo article about the whole affair it does imply that alongside calling him a Kolpak, Gale said something about going back to his own country. Which, when positioned in context with the other remarks, perhaps becomes something more unpleasant. The whole thing is fairly ambiguous. I’m not sure if this is an overreaction or a misrepresentation of something a touch crueller than it might first appear.

    1. From reading the article, it looks like Gale told a coloured chap to go back to his own country. Not the wisest of things he could have said.

    2. “My dad, for example, he’s not as cosmopolitan or as educated as me and it can be embarrassing you know. He doesn’t understand all the new trendy words – like he’ll say “poofs” instead of “gays”, “birds” instead of “women”, “darkies” instead of “coloureds”.”

  5. No explicitly negative comments on cricinfo yet, so may as well pretend that this is a comment on the article: “Some good points Steve48 – the ‘art’ of keeping is slowly eroding.” (From back in the days when a good keeper could still strike terror into a batting lineup before they all sodded off to play T20 and the only test specialists were prudish vampires.)

  6. I miss the Kolpakkers. HD Ackerman and Claude Henderson especially. Much better than investing in youth, that’s a crap idea that bites you in the posterior.

  7. so if an English player calls an opponent as fuc*ing then will the ECB treat it as racial abuse

    or will the ICC from hereon instruct umpires to treat such cases as examples of level 3 offence?

    1. oops repost again with square brackets instead of arrows

      so if an English player calls an opponent as fuc*ing [insert country name of opponent] then will the ECB treat it as racial abuse
      or will the ICC from hereon instruct umpires to treat such cases as examples of level 3 offence?

  8. Calling someone a ‘Kolpak’ is not racist. It’s debatable even if ‘go back to where you come from’ is racist in this case. If Prince was a British permanent resident/would-be citizen then maybe, but being a Kolpac by definition means he’s not from England. At best you could argue he’s ‘from’ whichever EU country he gets his Kolpac status from.

    However, I’d like to suggest a hypothetical scenario. Let’s say apart from other sundry mouthing-off Andrew Gale used the ‘n’ word, or something equally offensive. I reckon in that case the ECB lawyers would be talking quite a bit to ECB staff about 1) potential libel action (from Gale or Yorkshire if you say something just slightly not on the mark) and 2) suits to do with hostile workplaces (if you somehow manage to tell the world that Ashwell Prince has been called a ‘n’ – certainly his lawyer would be interested to know that he gets called a ‘n’ in his workplace).

    Is it at all possible that in a case such as this what the public gets would be a very washed-out and not terribly clear explanation, at least until they have locked down and completed an airtight formal process?

    I would think internally you would end up in a wrangle between the cowards frightened of being sued, and the frustrated righteous who think the guy should be seriously punished.

    Externally you just get confused messages that are difficult to understand.

  9. At least Andrew Gale isn’t a murderer or a rapist, doesn’t punch his fiancée unconscious or beat his children bloody with a tree branch.

    Spare a thought for the NFL.

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