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Monday, August 8, 2022
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HomeCulture WarsCricket chiefs give themselves out – racist before wicket

Cricket chiefs give themselves out – racist before wicket

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THE entire board of Cricket Scotland have resigned following a review which characterises the organisation’s ‘governance, leadership and support’ structures as ‘institutionally racist’.

In a statement the board said: ‘The review has achieved an unparalleled level of engagement and we believe it will be truly transformative, not just for Cricket Scotland and the sport of cricket, but it will provide a watershed moment for Scottish sport and society in general . . . We are all truly sorry and have apologised publicly to everyone who has experienced racism, or any other form of discrimination, in cricket in Scotland.’

The review, published on Monday after the board resigned, details allegations of racism and discrimination across all of Scottish cricket. The investigation began after Scotland’s all-time leading wicket-taker, Majid Haq, who represented the country more than 200 times, told Sky Sports News in November last year that Cricket Scotland was ‘institutionally racist’. His former team-mate Qasim Sheikh backed his claim, suggesting that he too had suffered racist abuse throughout his career.

Their complaints echoed those of the former Yorkshire cricketer, Azeem Rafiq, who last year accused English cricket of being institutionally racist. His testimony before a parliamentary committee led to changes in Yorkshire’s leadership, Headingley being barred from hosting international matches, and the England and Wales Cricket Board putting together a 12-point plan to tackle racism.

The Cricket Scotland review was carried out by Plan4Sport appointed by Sportscotland, the national agency for sport. Plan4Sport describe themselves as ‘a multi-disciplinary company supporting a wide range of public and private sports organisations in the areas of equality, diversity and inclusion, mental health and wellbeing, business development, governance and leadership, education and training and facility funding’.

They use a ‘highly skilled team of specialist staff’, among them Dr Fiona Bartels Ellis OBE, head of equality at the British Council, Aneel Javed,  who is Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Manager at the English Football League (EFL). The review scoping document (pdf) is silent on the costs of the investigation, despite public funding of £500,000 going to Cricket Scotland between 2019 and 2020.

Plan4Sport’s interim report in April revealed that their review had resulted in police involvement and it has now emerged that one individual has since appeared in court. Police Scotland are said to be reviewing potential hate crimes, and ‘HR and legal experts’ were involved to ensure allegations of racism were investigated fully. Other issues included ‘misogyny, leadership, and governance concerns’.  

For their review, consultants interviewed more than 200 people, including players, Cricket Scotland staff, and board members both past and present. Several hundred respondents took part in an anonymous online survey – a clearly self-selected group. They raised 122 examples of people ‘seeing, hearing or being made aware of racism and another 49 reports of prejudice on the grounds of religion’. There is no statistical analysis given as to the proportion or regularity of such incidents relative to the number of interactions.

Allegations include racial abuse, inappropriate language, ‘concern over the perceived bias towards the recruitment of players from public schools over state schools’, favouritism to white children from public schools, and ‘opaque selection processes’. Whilst these may be legitimate complaints, they are difficult to evaluate: for example public schools in Scotland tend to play more cricket than state schools.

Plan4Sport’s managing director Louise Tideswell declared that the ‘governance and leadership practices of Cricket Scotland have been institutionally racist’. She said: ‘Over the review period we have seen the bravery of so many people coming forward to share their stories which had clearly impacted on their lives . . . The reality is that the leadership of the organisation failed to see the problems and enabled a culture of racially aggravated microaggressions to develop.’ 

The report contains 448 examples of institutional racism and judges the organisation to have ‘failed 29 out of 31 indicators of institutional racism’, defined by Sir William Macpherson as ‘the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racial stereotyping’.

As a consequence of the report’s 31 direct allegations of racism against 15 people, two clubs and one regional association have been referred to other agencies for continued investigation.

Plan4Sport made three key recommendations:

·       That Cricket Scotland be taken under ‘special measures’ by the national agency for sport until at least October 2023.

·       That one of Scotland’s five regional associations, the Western District Cricket Union, be placed in special measures by Cricket Scotland and immediately suspended from managing all disciplinary measures. An urgent review should be held into its governance.

·       New board members should be recruited for Cricket Scotland, with efforts to ensure a minimum of 25 per cent of members coming from black, south-east Asian, or other mixed or multiple ethnic groups.

The last census (2011) showed the Scottish population to be 96 per cent white, much to the distaste of Scottish Health Secretary Humza Haroon Yousaf. The percentage of Asian (Bangladeshi, Chinese, Indian and Pakistani), African, Caribbean, or Black, Mixed or Other ethnic groups was 4 per cent. African Caribbean or Black were just over 1 per cent of the total population.

Let us hope that the new board can resist any form of imposed woke tokenism or positive discrimination and make cricket a game where the only measure that matters is excellence, but it doesn’t look likely. It seems clear that there was no protest from the board members who quit – they have confessed their sins, are bowed and broken and have given themselves up as a sacrifice on the altar of wokeism.

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Kate Dunlop
Kate Dunlop
Kate Dunlop is a mediator.

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