The world of cricket was plunged into crisis last week after the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) found Azeem Rafiq guilty on a charge of racism. The Pakistani cricketer denied his guilt and is now suing NZC for wrongful termination, claiming he had been repeatedly racially abused by teammates since joining the national team.
Azeem Rafiq, a former Pakistan cricketer, was racially abused by an England supporter. The incident has led to the England and Wales Cricket Board issuing an apology unreservedly.
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Racism and bigotry are a “blight” on our sport, according to England and Wales cricket officials, who “unreservedly apologize.”
Following Azeem Rafiq’s testimony regarding the bigotry he faced at Yorkshire, a game-wide meeting was conducted on Friday.
On Tuesday, Rafiq told a select committee on digital, culture, media, and sport that English cricket is “institutionally racist.”
“Our game has to reclaim your faith,” ECB CEO Tom Harrison stated.
At the meeting on Friday at The Oval in London, representatives from the ECB, the Professional Cricketers’ Association, Marylebone Cricket Club, the National Counties Cricket Association, and the First Class and Recreational County Cricket network were present.
A joint statement stated, “Azeem Rafiq has shed a light on our game that has shocked, disgraced, and grieved us all.”
“We sincerely apologize to Azeem and all others who have faced prejudice in whatever way.
“Our sport did not greet you with open arms, and our game did not embrace you as we should have. We sincerely apologize for the pain you have endured.”
The group pledged to take “concrete action” to make cricket “more accessible and inclusive” while also maintaining effective governance, according to the statement.
The ECB has been chastised for its handling of the Yorkshire racism incident.
Harrison said on Friday that he was “extremely driven” to lead change throughout the game.
“As a father of two daughters, I want to make sure that I leave a game that has exactly the proper type of secure atmosphere for everyone to feel welcomed and a feeling of belonging in,” he continued.
“Today, I did got the game’s support.”
On Wednesday, Harrison added, a 12-point plan would be revealed that will address the problems made by Rafiq and others.
Moves to combat racist shouting during matches, a prospective relationship with football’s anti-racism organization Kick It Out, and increased attempts to combat under-representation in cricket’s professional ranks and administrative positions are among the proposals, according to Sport.
Kick It Out has undertaken preliminary discussions with the ECB in order to propose a path forward.
Cricket lacks an equivalent to football’s equality and inclusion authority, which provides discriminatory counsel to clubs and regulatory bodies.
There was “a lot of heated sentiment” in the meeting over the racism situation, Lincolnshire chairman Rob Bradley told Sport.
“The ECB, I believe, will hold their hands up to the situation. This game must be able to stand on its own and represent everyone equally “he said
When asked whether he wanted Harrison to remain, Bradley answered, “I want Harrison to stay.” “Without a doubt. I believe we can learn a lot from this.”
On Tuesday, Harrison spoke before the DCMS committee, telling MPs that English cricket is reaching a “emergency” due to its inability to confront racism.
He also claimed that the ECB has “struggled” to “wake up” the first-class game.
On Thursday, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston indicated the government may go for the “nuclear option” of establishing an independent cricket authority.
Rafiq has also urged the European Central Bank to take action.
Rafiq made his first public statement in September 2020, prompting the club to launch an inquiry the following month.
The investigation’s treatment and results, which determined that Rafiq had been the subject of “racial harassment and bullying” and upheld seven of Rafiq’s 43 complaints, were highly panned. Yorkshire later confirmed that no one will face disciplinary action at the club.
The ECB has subsequently barred Yorkshire from hosting international matches.
Following Rafiq’s testimony, former Yorkshire academy players Irfan Amjad and Tabassum Bhatti have spoken out about the racial abuse they faced at the club.
Former Essex players Zoheb Sharif and Maurice Chambers have both claimed to have been subjected to racial abuse.
Rafiq has apologized for anti-Semitic Facebook posts he made in 2011, while Nottinghamshire batter Alex Hales has apologized for a picture of him wearing black make-up.
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