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Report calls for taxpayers' money to be given to cricket only if sport tackles racism


A damning report said cricket’s ruling body ‘would have been aware’ of racism dogging the game. It calls for public money to be dependent on officials ridding cricket of the scourge of racism

Azeem Rafiq
Allegations by Azeem Rafiq triggered the parliamentary inquiry

Taxpayers’ cash should only be pumped into cricket if the sport tackles racism, MPs say today.

A damning report by the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee says the English game’s ruling body “would have been aware” of racism dogging the game.

It calls for public money to be dependent on officials ridding cricket of the scourge of racism.

The issue exploded after harrowing allegations made by former Yorkshire bowler Azeem Rafiq, which triggered the parliamentary inquiry.

Rafiq’s devastating evidence of abuse he suffered shocked the sport.

Publishing its report today, the committee said: “MPs conclude not only is there racism in cricket, but that Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the England and Wales Cricket Board would have been aware of it.”

The study says that evidence MPs heard “indicates that anyone involved in cricket should have been aware of the underlying racism throughout the game”.







Yorkshire County Cricket Club outside Headingley, the home of Yorkshire cricket
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

MPs say: “It is evident to us that there is a deep-seated issue of racism in cricket.

“More pertinent, it is evident to Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the England and Wales Cricket Board that there is an issue of racism in cricket.”

The committee’s examination of racism at Headingley was triggered by “an internal investigation by the club that, despite upholding claims of racial discrimination, concluded there was ‘no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives that warrants disciplinary action’.”

MPs decided to intervene because it “was apparent that governance within the sport had failed in some fundamental manner”, they say today.

During a moving two-hour evidence session in November, MPs heard horrific examples of racism suffered by Rafiq, 30.

The off-spinner told of repeated racist comments from senior players throughout two spells at Yorkshire between 2008 and 2018.

“There were comments such as, ‘You lot sit there near the toilets’, ‘Elephant washers’,” he said.

“The word ‘P***’ was used constantly and there just seemed to be an acceptance in the institution from the leaders and no one stamped it out.”







Julian Knight MP said racism is an endemic problem across the whole of cricket
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PA)

Today’s 13-page report says: “At our oral evidence session, we were convinced by Azeem Rafiq’s moving evidence of how he had been subject to racial discrimination and his conviction that this was not simply a personal issue but an endemic problem across the whole of cricket.”

Committee chairman, Conservative MP Julian Knight, said: “The powerful evidence given to this committee by Azeem Rafiq convinced us that his story was typical of an endemic problem across the whole of cricket.

“We commend him for having the courage to blow the whistle on unacceptable and discriminatory behaviour.”

MPs urged the ECB to issue updates to Parliament every three months on progress it is making in tackling racism.

The committee also said public money for the sport should be “conditional on the game cleaning up its act”.

MPs said they would be “watching closely and fully intend to ensure that cricket cleans up its act”.







Yorkshire CCC chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel
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AFP via Getty Images)

The committee plans to invite Yorkshire and ECB chiefs to give evidence early this year.

Yorkshire CCC chairman Lord Patel said: “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 that he did at Yorkshire CCC.

“In the last two months Yorkshire CCC has made significant progress in our efforts to rebuild, and I am heartened that the committee considers that there is room for optimism in what we have achieved.

“We share that optimism and have made some real improvements, but we are only at the start of this long and important journey.”

ECB Interim chairman Barry O’Brien said: “We welcome the committee’s recommendations and the focus of Julian Knight and committee members on achieving real change.

“We also embrace the ongoing scrutiny of the committee and all those that love the game of cricket who will be watching closely as we undertake the continuous, demonstrable, progress in eradicating racism from the dressing room and from the stands.

“We are determined to root out racism – and other forms of discrimination – from our sport.

“We look forward to updating the committee on the progress the whole game is making in delivering the 12-point Action Plan agreed in November to bring about the meaningful change we all want to see.

“We agree that sharing regular, public updates on our progress is important to rebuilding trust in our sport.”

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