Lawyers to consider racism claims against 15 people following Cricket Scotland report

Lawyers are now considering racism allegations against 15 people following complaints made during the devastating review into Cricket Scotland.

A legal team has been appointed by national agency Sportscotland following the report that found the processes, attitudes and behaviours of Cricket Scotland were institutionally racist.

Allegations against the Western District Cricket Union and two un-named clubs will also be examined.

It is the first time a formal mechanism has been set up to deal with allegations of racism within the sport and its governance.

A spokesman for Plan4Sport, which conducted the review, said: “Sportscotland has appointed the lawyers as part of the dedicated resource it provides to all governing bodies. The lawyers will refer back to an independent panel as part of a process that is currently being developed.”

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Following the review, 68 complaints have now been referred, with 31 concerning allegations of racism and the others linked to separate issues including child protection and safeguarding.

The allegations of racism include the use of inappropriate language, favouritism to young white children from public schools and a lack of a transparent selection process for non-white players.

Cricketer Majid Haq speaks at a press conference on Monday after an independent review into allegations of racism at Cricket Scotland has found the governance and leadership practices of the organisation to be "institutionally racist". Haq, Scotland's all-time leading wicket-taker and former teammate Qasim Sheikh have spoken out about the racist abuse they have suffered. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

In some instances, multiple concerns were raised about individuals, with complaints stemming from incidents that occurred both in recent times and longer ago.

The review heard complaints from players about the persistent use of alcohol as part of post-match and social evenings with a lack of consideration for different religious practices and beliefs.

One participant spoke of excessive membership fees for South-East Asian players over their white counterparts in one club, because they did not purchase alcohol or food in the bar after matches, despite the lack of halal or vegetarian options.

Reports of inappropriate language, which was written off as "banter”, were also shared with concerns that “sledging” – when a rival player is insulted to put them off play – was used as an excuse for racial slurs.

No one affected knew of any formal process to report racism, with no support in place, the report said. Of those who complained to a Regional Association or Cricket Scotland, no action had been taken or cases remained “live” despite being reported several years ago. Some had left the game as a result of their experiences.

The review found 448 examples of institutional racism within Cricket Scotland, which included instances of individual behaviour, as well as governance and policy documents which failed on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) requirements.

It found a “lack of a clear line of accountability “ for anti-racism and EDI in the Cricket Scotland governance structures of Board and Council.

"This has led to a lack of commitment, lack of clarity in role and purpose, lack of allocation of appropriate resources, and a lack of accountability and responsibility in dealing with issues,” the report said.

It is now known that Cricket Scotland, whose chair Sue Strachan and board resigned last Sunday ahead of the report’s publication the following day, instigated the review and approached Sportscotland to investigate any evidence of racism in the sport.

The request came after former Scotland players Qasimh Sheik and fellow player Majid Haq spoke out about their experiences after longstanding racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club was exposed last year in an independent report.

Now, Sportscotland has admitted “failings” in the way it identified the issues within Cricket Scotland, whose funding was approved by the national agency after its equality policies were considered as part of the terms and conditions of the award.

A spokeswoman for Sportscotland said “Cricket Scotland met the basic level requirement of the Equality Standard for Sport and were looking to progress. They had identified some gaps and were in discussion with Sportscotland on this.

“These discussions were taking place around the time the issue of racism in Yorkshire Cricket arose. When both the former Scotland players Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh then raised issues in Scotland, Cricket Scotland asked Sportscotland for our help and support to investigate any evidence of racism in cricket in Scotland.

"Sportscotland immediately appointed the independent review team. We accept that there were failings on our part that the situation got to that stage within Cricket Scotland. We accept we should have identified these issues earlier within Cricket.

"With the publication of the Changing the Boundaries report on Monday we are now re-doubling our efforts to work with our SGBs to ensure EDI is of the highest priority for them.”

An independent report published in November 2020 found that Sportscotland should play a greater leadership role in emphasising the importance of equality.

It found there was a lack of awareness of equality and sport research undertaken by Sportscotland among its own organisation, sporting governing bodies, local authorities and the third sector.

Meanwhile, the UK-wide Sports Council Equality Group (SCEG), is reviewing its Equality Standard for Sport for the first time in a decade to ensure it is “progressive and still fit for purpose”.

Representatives for Sportscotland sit on the group, along with counterpart agencies across the UK.

As Scotland’s sporting community comes to terms with the Cricket Scotland review findings and how they impact on EDI standards for other sports, 50 heads of governing bodies met with Stewart Harris, chief executive of Sportscotland, on Tuesday.

Plan4Sport developed 31 new indicators to assess racism at Cricket Scotland, with the criteria based on the definition of institutional racism in the Macpherson Report into the Metropolitan Police following the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.

Plan4Sport said the indicators would be used in any further review by the organisation.

It added: “Governing bodies would, we think, find it very useful to use the indicators as a self-evaluation tool.”

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