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Cricket still in denial about racism Azeem Rafiq

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Azeem Rafiq believes that cricket still lives in much denial about the problem it faces with racism.

The former Yorkshire player has whistled over the abuse he suffered in the county over two spells between 2008 and 2018.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee has recommended in a new report that public funding of crickets be curtailed if it doesn’t clean up its act and rid the sport of racism.

Rafiq is impressed by the changes made in Yorkshire by their new chairman, Lord Kamlesh Patel, since his appointment in November, but is less convinced about the seriousness of the approach to the problem.

I see Yorkshire trying to do the right thing, but I feel like the game as a whole is still in denial, he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

I think the ECB should do more. I’d say putting an action plan on a document, we’ve all seen that before. We need to see more action.

The DCMS committee chair, Julian Knight, told the PA news agency that the jury is made up of the England and Wales Cricket Board and its chief executive Tom Harrison.

In addition to limiting funding, Knight says his committee will push for independent regulation of the sport if she is dissatisfied with the ECB’s progress on the matter.

The ECB is considering its role as regulator as part of a governance review, and Rafiq believes it is wrong for the governing body to act as promoter and overseer of the sport.

He added: I don’t think the ECB can be both the regulators and the promoters of the progressive game, as my situation shows.

If you do them both it gets really confusing and it’s just not a good habit.

ECB chief Harrison says he welcomes parliamentary scrutiny and wants cricket to become the example for others to follow.

The governing body produced a 12-point plan to tackle discrimination in sport, which came after Rafiq laid out harrowing details to the committee in November about the racial abuse he had endured.

The select committee has asked the ECB to provide its quarterly progress updates, and will be published early this year.

Harrison said Friday: We welcome the investigation. It’s obviously been a tough few months for us, with the allegations and different stories it’s been very painful.

We have the chance to come out of this crisis with a roadmap that shows that first of all we are absolutely serious about tackling discrimination in our sport, not just racism, and that we can work together as a game and do that as a partnership.

ECB chief Tom Harrison says his organization welcomes parliamentary scrutiny

ECB chief Tom Harrison says his organization welcomes parliamentary scrutiny (Hollie Adams/PA)

We want the government to speak to us and when we can show that we can tackle this, do it meaningfully, maybe we’ll be less in the spotlight of the sport and more of an example in terms of how we deal with real complicated and difficult issues in our sport.

A DCMS spokesperson said: There is no place for discrimination in society and we want to see clear and sustainable evidence of cultural change in sport.

We will now consider the recommendations of the reports and continue to hold the ECB and Yorkshire to account and take further action if necessary.

The report praised Lord Patel’s efforts to change culture in Yorkshire since his appointment in November.

However, the committee wants to hear from him early this year and will ask about the role the Colin Graves Trust will continue to play.

Lord Patels pastor, Roger Hutton, told the committee in November that he wanted to remove former chief executive Mark Arthur and cricket director Martyn Moxon over their response to the findings of an independent inquiry into Rafiqs’ complaints of racial harassment and bullying.

However, Hutton claimed that he was prevented from doing so by the trustees.

Knight said that until there was clarity about the Trust’s role, he did not think Yorkshire should be given the right to host international matches.

I would very carefully question the Graves Trust’s position in Yorkshire, whether or not it should continue to have the influence and power it has, he said.

Lord Patel has warned that failure to recover from international matches at Headingley would lead to a financial crisis in Yorkshire.

One of Lord Patels’ first steps with the county was to set up an independent whistleblower hotline, which the club revealed Friday had had 45 contacts falling within the remit of the investigation.

Interviews have or will take place with 42 of those contacts, while there were also 24 contacts that fell outside the scope of the study. Nine discrimination complaints did not apply to Yorkshire and 15 contained opinions as well as sales and marketing gossip, an update from the club said.

I would like to personally thank everyone who has reached out to the hotline, Lord Patel said.

It is through the courage of those who come forward that we can continue to learn and push for change.

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