England cricket warned to ‘clean up the act’ on racism or lose public funds following parliamentary report | cricket news



English cricket has been rocked by the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal

Racism in cricket is ‘deeply rooted’ and public money should be withdrawn from the sport unless it can ‘clean up its act’, a parliamentary committee has said.

In November, Azeem Rafiq gave moving testimony to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee about the racist abuse he faced during two spells in Yorkshire beginning in 2008 and ending in 2018.

In a report released on Friday, the committee found there was ‘entrenched’ racism within the sport and cited the example of the language used in correspondence with the committee and attempts to ‘discredit’ Rafiq in the media as evidence of a « long and difficult road » ahead for the sport.

He then asked the Cricket Council of England and Wales (ECB) to develop a set of key indicators and provide quarterly updates to the committee on its progress, or face a reduction government funding.

Azeem Rafiq testified at a DCMS select committee hearing in November 2021

Azeem Rafiq testified at a DCMS select committee hearing in November 2021

The committee said the ECB and Yorkshire will be called to testify on their progress early this year.

« We are watching closely and fully intend to ensure that cricket cleans up its act, » the report said.

“We recommend that the government ensure that any future public funding for cricket is dependent on continued and demonstrable progress in eliminating racism both in the locker room and in the stands. « 

  • There is ‘rooted’ racism in English cricket and the sport needs to ‘clean up its act’
  • The language used in correspondence with the committee as it gathered evidence and attempts to ‘discredit’ Rafiq in the media are evidence of a ‘long and difficult road’ to be traveled
  • The ECB is called upon to develop a set of key indicators and provide quarterly updates to the committee on its progress, or face a cut in funding
  • The ECB and Yorkshire will be called upon to testify on their progress in early 2022

The ECB published on November 18 a 12-point plan to combat discrimination. Its general manager Tom Harrison has described allegations of racism made by Rafiq and other players as an « earthquake » in cricket.

The plan includes a dressing room culture review, diversity training for everyone involved in the sport, a governance review, an effort to remove barriers to top-flight cricket, localized equality, diversity and inclusion for clubs, counties and government bodies and looking at how to make stadiums more welcoming to people from diverse backgrounds.

MP Julian Knight, chairman of the committee, said: “The powerful evidence provided to this committee by Azeem Rafiq convinced us that his story was typical of a problem endemic to the whole of cricket. We congratulate him for having had the courage to denounce unacceptable and discriminatory behavior.

“We were shocked by the language people used in correspondence with us after the hearing. This, along with the stories being aired in the media to discredit him, demonstrates that eradicating racism from the game will be a long and difficult road. However, it is a watershed moment for cricket in this country. Those who love and support the game are part of the solution and must play their part.

MP Julian Knight is the chairman of the DCMS committee

MP Julian Knight is the chairman of the DCMS committee

“The changes introduced by Lord Patel to Yorkshire County Cricket Club leave room for optimism, but cannot on their own eradicate racism in the game. Public funding of cricket must depend on real leadership and progress from the ECB to combat odious behavior, not just in the locker room, but also in the stands.

“The government must condition future funding on cleaning up the game. We have warned the ECB that we expect regular updates provided to this committee on progress. « 

Rafiq: Great that DCMS is asking the ECB to account

Commenting on the report, Rafiq said, “The DCMS committee listened and took sensible action.

“It is absolutely brilliant that Julian Knight and his colleagues on the committee hold the ECB to account every quarter. It shows how seriously politicians are taking an issue that too many in cricket have ignored for so long. The committee understands how important it is to clean up the game.

“The proposed additional hearing, at which the ECB and Yorkshire Country Cricket Club will be required to give evidence on their progress, is also welcome news. They must be given the opportunity to do the right thing and I have been encouraged by Lord Patel’s work since he was appointed President of the YCCC.

Rafiq played for Yorkshire in two spells between 2008 and 2018

Rafiq played for Yorkshire in two spells between 2008 and 2018

“I am pleased that MPs will follow any progress, so that the reforms needed to make sport inclusive for all young people can happen soon. « 

The committee opened the inquiry after Yorkshire announced that no disciplinary action would be taken against an individual at the club despite an inquiry it commissioned concluding there was ‘no doubt’ that Rafiq had been bullied and racially harassed.

The club could face further sanctions as a result of the ECB’s ongoing investigation into its handling of Rafiq’s complaints.

Barry O’Brien, Acting President of the ECB, commented: “We welcome the committee’s recommendations and the focus of Julian Knight and his members on achieving real change.

« We also embrace the continued scrutiny of the committee and all those who love the game of cricket who will be watching closely as we make continued and demonstrable progress to eradicate racism from the dressing rooms and the stands. We are determined to put down roots. eliminate racism – and other forms of discrimination – from our sport. « 

‘Headingley should not host until influence issues have been resolved’

Knight also said Yorkshire should not host international matches at Headingley until issues surrounding the influence of the Colin Graves Trust are resolved.

Former county chairman Roger Hutton told the DCMS select committee in November that he wanted to remove chief executive Mark Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon over their response to a report into allegations of racism raised by former player Azeem Rafiq.

However, Hutton said he had not obtained consent from the trust, to which the club owes a significant amount of money and is linked to the family of former Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves.

Rafiq accused Yorkshire of institutional racism

Rafiq accused Yorkshire of institutional racism

The ECB withdrew Yorkshire’s right to host lucrative international matches at Headingley over the former leader’s handling of the Rafiq crisis, but Lord Patel said this week it would be a ‘huge financial crisis’ for the county if international matches were not reinstated this summer. Rafiq told the Daily mail he felt the county had done enough to warrant returning the matches.

“It really makes me think about whether or not they are ready (to welcome internationals),” Knight told the PA news agency.

“Lord Patel has made great progress, but we must be sure that there is no repeat of a situation where those who are to be removed from their management positions at the club are not removed from their positions due to from a roadblock through a trust.

“I wonder if Yorkshire should get the games back until this issue is resolved. I think this is something we will explore with them and the ECB when they appear before us in the coming weeks.

Yorkshire CCC chairman Lord Patel admits it would be catastrophic if Test cricket did not return to Headingley.

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Yorkshire CCC chairman Lord Patel admits it would be catastrophic if Test cricket did not return to Headingley.

Yorkshire CCC chairman Lord Patel admits it would be catastrophic if Test cricket did not return to Headingley.

“I would question very closely the position of the Graves Trust in Yorkshire, or whether or not it should continue to have the influence and power that it has. « 

Patel said in response to the report: « We welcome the select committee’s call for demonstrable action to rid our sport of racism and discrimination. Azeem Rafiq’s testimony was a watershed moment for the sport as a whole, and we are committed to ensuring that no one endures the unacceptable experience he had at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

“Over the past two months, Yorkshire County Cricket Club has made significant progress in our rebuilding efforts, and I am encouraged that the committee sees there is room for optimism in what we have. accomplished. We share this optimism and have made real improvements, but we are only at the beginning of this long and important journey. « 



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