Racism in cricket: Government should cut public funding if no progress is made – DCMS report

The government should limit public funding for cricket unless “continuous and demonstrable progress” is made in eradicating racism, a parliamentary report recommends.

Last year, Azeem Rafiq gave an emotional testimony to a selected committee on digital, cultural, media and sports racism he has experienced in Yorkshire.

The committee’s report was released on Friday, and MP Julian Knight described Rafiq’s story as “typical of an endemic problem in cricket as a whole.”

Yorkshire has been widely criticized for dealing with Rafiq’s accusations.

Former Chairman Roger Hutton and CEO Mark Arthur have resigned and 16 employees have been laid off.

The committee said the changes made by Lord Patel, who replaced Hutton in November, were a positive step, but in themselves “could not eradicate racism”.

“This is the cricket divider,” Knight said.

“Those who love and support the game are part of the solution and must play their part.”

Rafiq welcomed the report, adding that it had also clarified the responsibilities of the Cricket Council of England and Wales (ECB) in the fight against racism in sport.

He said: “The committee has listened and taken reasonable steps. It is absolutely great that Julian Knight and his colleagues on the committee will hold the ECB accountable.”

“It shows how seriously politicians take a problem that too many people in cricket have ignored for so long. The committee understands how important it is to clean up the game.

“I am pleased that MEPs will monitor any progress so that the reforms needed to make sport inclusive for all young people can take place soon.”

What does the report say?

In November, Rafiq told the select committee that English cricket was “institutionally racist” and that racist language was “constantly” used during his time in Yorkshire.

Knight said MEPs were “shocked” by the language used in the correspondence they received after the hearing.

The report also referred to media stories aimed at “discrediting” Rafiq.

“Furthermore, it has turned out that eradicating racism from the game will be a long and difficult journey,” the report said.

“It does not matter whether the informant has a perfect moral character, but whether the question raised is valid.

“It is clear to us that there is a deep-rooted problem of racism in cricket.”

Knight reiterated Rafiq’s courage to speak out about racism.

During the November meeting, MEPs also heard Hutton and a representative of the ECB, including CEO Tom Harrison.

Harrison said there was English cricket approaching emergency situation over his inability to address racism with the governing body subsequently the publication of a five-point plan to solve the problem.

“Public funding for cricket must depend on real leadership and progress on the part of the ECB to deal with disgusting behavior,” Knight said.

“The government must make future funding conditional on the game cleansing its action.

“We have warned the ECB that we expect regular updates from this committee on the progress made.”

MEPs recommended that the ECB develop a set of “key indicators” to measure progress and then report to the committee.

They will also call on Yorkshire and the ECB to provide evidence of their progress in early 2022.

BBC sports editor Dan Roan Knight said the long-term viability of the ECB itself could be called into question if it did not address racism.

“Any grants from Sport England or any form of government grant should be conditional on the ECB demonstrating that it has not only set itself these goals, but is actively pursuing them,” he added.

“If that doesn’t happen, we could potentially look into the possibility of setting up an independent regulator.

“This is a key test of whether it should stay that way or not.”

What was the reaction?

in response to the report, Lord Patel he called Rafiq’s testimony “a turning point for the sport as a whole”, adding that Yorkshire “is committed to ensuring that no one can withstand the unacceptable experience he has had.”

AND DCMS spokesman He added: “We thank the select committee for its report on the shameful treatment of Aze Rafiq by the Yorkshire County Cricket Club and racism in the sport.

“We will now consider the report’s recommendations and take further action if necessary.”

Barry O’Brien, the interim President of the ECB, said: “We welcome the Committee’s recommendations and also accept the Committee’s ongoing scrutiny. We are determined to eradicate racism – and other forms of discrimination – in our sport.”

“We have taken important steps in recent years to make cricket more inclusive. We deeply regret the pain people have suffered and recognize the courage it took us to speak. We are determined to make cricket a stronger and more welcoming sport.” “

Tim Hollingsworth, Executive Director of Sport England, said: “The DCMS Select Committee report emphasizes the strong need for the ECB, districts and other cricket stakeholders to reform and take action to end structural racism in sport.

“Sport England’s funding is explicitly linked to the development and implementation of robust diversity and inclusion policies and plans. We have made this clear to the ECB, which has responded positively and constructively.”

“Azeem Rafiq’s strong and personal testimony before the committee shows us that the litmus test of progress will ultimately be the experiences of the various communities and their involvement in the game.

How did we get here?

Off-spinner Rafiq, who had two internships in Yorkshire between 2008 and 2018, first published his experience in September 2020.

Yorkshire launched a formal investigation the same month and received the results in August 2021.

However, the club did not publish the report, despite the ECB’s request. Instead, they published a statement admitting that Rafiq was a “victim of inappropriate behavior” – something he said racized racism – and offered him their “deep apology.”

Following further criticism, Yorkshire received a summary of the findings, stating that seven of Rafiq’s 43 allegations had been confirmed.

They concluded that no one in Yorkshire would face disciplinary action, but the club was heavily criticized by experts and MPs, with many sponsors withdrawing from their agreements.

Rafiq and other individuals were then asked to speak to the DCMS committee in November.

What is Yorkshire doing for a change?

Patel has made a number of changes since taking over management in Yorkshire, including setting up a hotline for reporting, reviewing the club’s procedures and policies, and settling the Labor Court with Rafiq.

In December, 16 staff members were fired, including cricket director Martyn Moxon and first team coach Andrew Gale.

Former Yorkshire and England pitcher Darren Gough has since been appointed cricket director until the end of the 2022 season, while former England pitchers Ryan Sidebottom and Steve Harmison have temporarily joined the coaching staff.

However, the club is still prohibited from hosting England matches by the ECB.

Patel told BBC Sport on Wednesday that he believes the ban on holding matches in England will be lifted, while Rafiq also said that Yorkshire “deserves” to have matches in Headingley.

“Yorkshire has made significant progress in our recovery efforts over the last two months and I am pleased that the committee believes that there is room for optimism in what we have achieved,” Patel said in a statement on Friday.

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

“Azeem Rafiq’s testimony was a turning point for the sport as a whole, and we are determined to ensure that no one can withstand the unacceptable experience he has had.”

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