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Cricket Scotland Engulfed in Racism Allegations Following Damning Report

Cricket Scotland Engulfed in Racism Allegations Following Damning Report

Categories: Latest News

Monday August 08 2022

An independent review by Plan4Sport has found damning evidence of institutional racism in Cricket Scotland since former cricket players Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh came forward about the allegations. Although the entire Cricket Scotland board resigned hours before the report’s publication and apologised to those who experienced racism or other forms of discrimination, Cricket Scotland has since been placed under special measures until at least October 2023. 

The review has renewed concerns about institutional racism in the sport and reflects the need for immediate action. Only last year, Azeem Rafiq testified about his experiences with the systemic racism within Yorkshire County Cricket Club, precipitating the investigation into Cricket Scotland.

The recent independent review has discovered 448 instances of institutional racism, including the use of offensive language as banter, a lack of transparency in the selection process, favouritism of white males, denial of racism, and ineffective systems for reporting racism. Furthermore, the sport’s governing body failed on 29 out of 31 indicators of institutional racism set out by Plan4Sport. Consequently, this highlights significant failures from the governing body and its leadership, allowing a racist culture to permeate and flourish at all levels of the organisation. Indeed, the gravity of racism is truly concerning – some of the allegations have been shared with Police Scotland as potential hate crimes, and more may be referred to the police in the future. Inevitably, racism and racialised inequalities significantly harm access, participation, and experiences of sport for Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, a space where they are already disproportionately absent. 

Scotland Cricket has also faced tokenism accusations amid claims of institutional racism. Aamer Anwar, Haq and Sheikh’s lawyer, questioned in a tweet what the point was in Scotland players ‘taking the knee’ during the T20 World Cup when ‘no white team member has chosen to say anything much or at all over the last few days on institutional racism’.

Majid Haq’s cricket career came to an end in 2015 when he was suspended from the Cricket World Cup for tweeting about claims of racism. In addition to the persistent racism in Cricket Scotland, it is perturbing that the leaders ‘sidelined or ignored’ those who sought to raise concern, and some, like Majid Haq, were maligned.

It took Anwar’s remark for the interim CEO of Cricket Scotland, Gordon Arthur, to offer an apology to Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh. However, this could be seen as another example of mere tokenism, as Aamer Anwar called the apology ‘too little, too late’. 

Meanwhile, Scotland cricket captain Richie Berrington and coach Shane Burger have vowed to play their part in eradicating racism from the game. At the same time, Cricket Scotland pledged to implement the report’s recommendations to eliminate racism at all levels, from the dressing room to its governance. Indeed, high-profile recognition of the problem is the first step to meaningfully countering the issue. However, mere apologies and promises are meaningless unless followed by action. Therefore, Cricket Scotland must guarantee that new implementations are checked for efficacy and are used to create a culture that does not tolerate racism and other forms of discrimination.

While the devastating report highlights endemic racism in Cricket Scotland, MEND notes that the issue of religious discrimination is significantly downplayed in general. In an anonymous survey from the inquiry, 122 individuals claimed to have suffered from racial prejudice, and 49 of them also reported having encountered religious or belief-based discrimination. The report notes that there is a lack of equality and diversity initiatives and anti-racism training across the organisation, which perpetuated the notion that these matters are not significant to them. Additionally, there was a lack of guidance about how to engage players during key religious periods, for example, during Ramadan. Consequently, the Muslim community has ‘traditionally struggled for representation’ in sports. Therefore, it is regrettable that Cricket Scotland failed to have due regard for their Muslim players when they were competing at the high level of the sport. 

Moreover, players have complained of persistent use of alcohol post-match and social evenings. At the same time, one participant spoke of excessive membership fees for South Asian players because they did not purchase alcohol or food in the bar, despite the lack of halal or vegetarian options. In the wake of the report, Muslim female cricketers for Scotland have also shared their experiences of racial abuse and microaggressions, as well as religious discrimination due to their visible Muslimness. Indeed, Islamophobia is an evident and genuine concern to current and former Muslim players on and off the field; however, it is not taken seriously despite placing racism as a broader issue in cricket organisations. According to the APPG definition, Islamophobia is rooted in racism and a type of racism in and of itself. As such, it is crucial that independent investigators thoroughly probe into claims of religious prejudice and offer appropriate recommendations. It is equally necessary for the media to bring the issue to light and prompt serious debate around religious prejudices and racism, particularly Islamophobia, in sport. 

In response to the report, the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, stated the inquiry’s findings reflect the state of racism in the wider society. He added that silence is ‘no longer an option’, and all communities must work together to eradicate all forms of racism and discrimination.  

In light of the above, MEND calls on all sports clubs and associations in Scotland to tackle racism effectively at all levels of their sport. Part of the action needed to achieve this is promoting diversity by ensuring BAME representation at the board level and throughout. Sports clubs must have zero-tolerance for all forms of racism, including Islamophobia, across all levels of sports.


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