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Mumbai cricket match 'sick jokes' about Madeleine McCann and Bobby Sands

By Adrian Rutherford

A joke about IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands was among a series of "sick" messages which appeared on a scoreboard during an England cricket match.

References to Madeleine McCann, Adam Johnson and Josef Fritzl were also flashed on the big screen at the stadium in Mumbai.

It came during the fourth Test between India and England.

Those watching the match at the Wankhede Stadium were invited to send messages of support for their team to be displayed on screen.

But a series of sickening jokes began to appear which were visible to thousands inside the ground. One said: "Great to see the hunger for Test cricket in Mumbai - Bobby Sands."

Sands, a member of the IRA who died after going on hunger strike while imprisoned at the Maze in 1981, had been serving a 14-year sentence for possessing a gun.

At the time of his death, Sands was MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

Other posts referred to Madeleine McCann, who was just three-years-old when she disappeared from a holiday apartment in Praia de Luz, Portugal, in 2007, and who still hasn't been found.

There were also references to Fritzl, who kept his daughter Elizabeth captive as a sex slave in the basement of his home in Austria for 24 years.

Another message which appeared on the electronic scoreboard referred to Johnson, the ex-Sunderland footballer who was sent to prison for six years in March for child sex offences.

There was also a mention of British politician and former Ukip leader, Nigel Farage.

The Barmy Army, an unofficial England fan group, criticised those behind the posts.

"It's a no-go area. It's a very sick thing to do," said Paul Burnham, the group's managing director.

Mr Burnham said he was not aware of who was responsible for the messages.

"We're 99% certain that it is not anybody connected with us," Mr Burnham told the BBC. "If it was, we would not react well to that in terms of their membership.

"I completely condemn the messages.

"They're not funny at all. There's a line you don't cross, and this has gone well over the line.

"People shouldn't be allowed to do things like that and get away with them," he continued.

"The way technology is now, it allows people to do things that they normally wouldn't.

"I hope that the media can track these people down," Mr Burnham added.

England crashed to defeat in Mumbai by an innings and 36 runs as India took a 3-0 lead with one Test remaining.

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