Scottish cricket racism: Report author ‘shocked’ by extent of institutional racism in Cricket Scotland

An author of an independent report on Cricket Scotland was “shocked” to see the governing body fail 29 of 31 indicators of institutional racism.

The organisation will be placed in special measures by sportscotland, the national agency for sport, after 448 instances of institutional racism were uncovered.

Consultancy firm Plan4Sport was commissioned by sportscotland in December after former Scotland players Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh made claims of racism in the wake of revelations on Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

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After almost 1,000 people engaged with the review, the conclusions were damning.

Majid Haq during a press conference at Stirling Court Hotel. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.Majid Haq during a press conference at Stirling Court Hotel. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Majid Haq during a press conference at Stirling Court Hotel. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

Of the two criteria the sporting organisation did pass, there were partial failings.

From an anonymous survey, 122 people reported experiencing racial discrimination and 49 people reported experiencing discrimination on grounds of religion or belief.

Most (62 per cent) of the survey respondents had experienced, seen or received reports of racism or other forms of discrimination.

From conversations, 68 individual concerns have been referred for further investigation, including 31 allegations of racism against 15 people, two clubs and one regional association.

Some cases have been referred to Police Scotland, some to Children First and others to Cricket Scotland.

No other details were given, but someone has already appeared in court.

The allegations include racial abuse, use of inappropriate language, favouritism towards white children from public schools and a lack of a transparent selection process.

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The review also found a lack of any diversity or anti-racist training, no consistent process for handling racist incidents with people who did raise issues “sidelined or ignored”, a lack of diversity from board level to the coaching workforce and within the talent pathway, and a lack of transparency in the selection process.

The managing director of Plan4Sport, Louise Tideswell, declared it was clear the “governance and leadership practices of Cricket Scotland have been institutionally racist”.

“I am shocked that a sport can meet 29 of the 31 indicators,” she said.

“The reality is that the leadership of the organisation failed to see the problems and, in failing to do so, enabled a culture of racially aggravated micro-aggressions to develop.

“But I also want to add that, whilst the governance and leadership practices of the organisation have been institutionally racist, the same should not be said for cricket in Scotland.

"There are many outstanding clubs and individuals delivering local programmes which truly engage with diverse communities.”

Although no details were given about individual cases in the report, the public accounts of Haq and Sheikh give context to the findings.

Sheikh never played for Scotland again after the age of 25 despite being made to apologise for claiming that race was a factor in selection.

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Now 37 and with his international career long gone, Sheikh feels he was dropped for two poor performances soon after hitting consecutive centuries for his country.

Haq is the nation’s leading wicket-taker and played more than 200 internationals, but is not in Scotland’s hall of fame.

He saw his international career end after sending a tweet giving his opinion that race was a factor in selection when he was dropped at the 2015 World Cup.

Haq was sent home, suspended for three months and claimed he was denied support for mental health problems despite feeling suicidal.

He has outlined a number of examples of being the subject of racial and religious discrimination throughout his Scotland career and made 10 referrals to the review team.

The Changing the Boundaries report made three key recommendations. Cricket Scotland, whose entire board stepped down on Sunday, will be taken under special measures by sportscotland until at least October 2023 while diversity ratios have been suggested for the composition of the new board.

The second key recommendation is that one of Scotland’s five regional associations, the Western District Cricket Union, is placed in special measures by Cricket Scotland, which has also been encouraged to address the backlog in referrals with any resulting investigations to be undertaken by a third party with suitable expertise.

The chief executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, described the findings as “deeply concerning and in some cases shocking”.

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He said: “As the national agency for sport, we will work with and support Cricket Scotland to help change the culture of Scottish cricket and that must now be the focus.

“There has been some progress in recent months but we need to see more steps being taken to address the issues raised and importantly that includes the referrals.”

Cricket Scotland interim chief executive Gordon Arthur, who started in his role earlier this month, issued a “heartfelt apology” to the victims of racism and other discrimination, although he stopped short of apologising publicly to Haq and Sheikh until the referral processes are complete.

Mr Arthur added: “It’s clear that significant cultural change must happen and it must happen quickly.

“The immediate priority must be to get the independent referral process agreed and implemented so the investigations into the referrals can start.”

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