ENGLISH cricket IS endemically racist – and should have its public funding cut unless it acts to root it out of the game.
Those were the shaming findings of MPs after an investigation into Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of racism at Yorkshire.
Azeem Rafiq’s testimony against Yorkshire must prove a ‘watershed’ moment for cricketCredit: PA
Rafiq’s dramatic testimony led to a clear-out of the Yorkshire coaching structure and board, with the county now headed by Lord Patel.
And Tory MP Julian Knight, head of the all-party DCMS committee, believes the Rafiq affair must prove a “watershed” for the game in this country.
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.
“Public funding for cricket must depend on real leadership and progress by the ECB to tackle abhorrent behaviour, not just in the dressing rooms, but also in the stands.
“This is a watershed for cricket in this country. Those who love and support the game are part of the solution and must play their part.
“The Government must make future funding conditional on the game cleaning up its act.”
ECB interim chair Barry O’Brien accepted and “welcomed” the report and promised “to focus on achieving real change”.
He vowed: “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.
This is a watershed for cricket in this country… the Government must make future funding conditional on the game cleaning up its act
Conservative MP Julian Knight
“We are determined to root out racism – and other forms of discrimination – from our sport.”
Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of Sport England, which gave the ECB £2.2m last year, said it was vital to end “structural racism” in cricket but the Lord’s chiefs had vowed to implement “robust diversity” policies.
He added: “Azeem Rafiq’s powerful and personal testimony shows us that ultimately, the litmus test of progress will be the lived experiences of diverse communities and their involvement in the game*.*
“Until experiences like Azeem’s are eradicated, the work to defeat racism in sport must continue.”
A DCMS spokesperson said: “We thank the select committee for its report into the disgraceful treatment of Azeem Rafiq by Yorkshire County Cricket Club and racism in the sport.
“The report notes there has been encouraging progress through the implementation of new governance structures, but there is no place for discrimination in society and we want to see clear and sustained evidence of cultural change in the sport.
“We will now consider the report’s recommendations and continue to hold the England and Wales Cricket Board and the YCCC to account and take further action if necessary.”