Friday, December 8

Cut funding for English cricket over “deep-seated racism,” urged government | ECB

The UK government has been urged to cut funding for English cricket unless the Cricket Board of England and Wales can show that it is serious about fighting the “deep-seated racism” that exists throughout the sport.

That is the damning recommendation of a parliamentary investigation into racism that concludes that the problem of cricket is not only “endemic”, but that the governing body knew about it and did not act correctly.

The 13-page report from the select committee for digital, culture, media and sports also praises former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq, who spoke so boldly about the shocking abuse he suffered in November, but says his testimony must now lead to change. real.

It has directed the ECB to provide parliament with quarterly updates on its plans to tackle racism and says that unless there is sustained progress, the £ 2.2 million the ECB receives each year from Sport England for the game of base could be at risk.

“We recommend that the government ensure that future public funding for cricket depends on continued and demonstrable progress to eliminate racism both in the locker room and in the stands,” he says. “We recommend that the ECB board develop a set of key indicators by which they can measure their progress and then report back to us on those indicators each quarter.”

The report follows astonishing evidence provided to the committee by Rafiq, who exposed the racism, intimidation and “inhumane” treatment he faced over several years in Yorkshire, along with the lack of adequate response from the club and the ECB.

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MPs describe Rafiq’s testimony as “compelling” and say they agree with his conviction “that this was not simply a personal problem but an endemic problem throughout cricket.” “The language used in the correspondence received by our committee members after the evidence session with Azeem, and the way the stories were published in the press to discredit Azeem, further establishes, for us, that eradicating the Racism of the game will be a long and difficult road ”, they add.

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The report was well received by Rafiq, who said it was “brilliant” that the ECB and Yorkshire were held accountable, but agreed that they should be given a chance to show that they were making progress. “The DCMS committee has listened and taken sensible action,” he added.

“This shows how seriously politicians take an issue that too many people in cricket ignored for so long. The committee understands how important it is to clean up the game. The ECB and Yorkshire must have 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 ”.

There has been surprise in some quarters about the report’s threat to cut funding as much of it goes to helping children in disadvantaged areas. However, ECB Acting President Barry O’Brien said the game’s governing body accepted the general approach of the report and vowed to rebuild confidence in the sport.

“We welcome continued scrutiny from 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 locker room and stands,” he said. “We are determined to eradicate racism and other forms of discrimination from our sport.

“We look forward to updating the committee on the progress the entire game is making in delivering the 12-point Action Plan agreed to in November to bring about the significant change we all want to see,” he added. “We deeply regret the pain people have suffered and recognize the courage it took to speak up.”

That message was echoed by Lord Patel, now President in Yorkshire. “Azeem Rafiq’s testimony was a watershed moment for the sport as a whole, and we are committed to ensuring that no one suffers from the unacceptable experience he had at the Yorkshire County Cricket Club,” he said.

“In the past two months, Yorkshire has made significant progress in our rebuilding efforts, but we are only at the beginning of this long and important journey.”
Meanwhile, a DCMS spokesperson noted that there has been “encouraging progress” in recent weeks. But he also warned: “There is no place for discrimination in society and we want to see clear and sustained evidence of cultural change in sport.”

Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth adopted a similar tone when he urged the ECB, counties and other cricket stakeholders to reform and take “action to end structural racism in the sport”. “Funding for Sport England is explicitly linked to the development and implementation of strong diversity and inclusion policies,” he said. “We have made this clear to the ECB, which has responded positively and constructively.

“Azeem Rafiq’s powerful and personal testimony before the committee shows us that ultimately the litmus test of progress will be the experiences of various communities and their participation in the game. Until experiences like Azeem’s are eradicated, the work to defeat racism in sport must continue ”.

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