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Minister demands action after ‘shocking’ report into racism in Scottish cricket

(Alamy)
(Alamy)

Scotland’s sports minister is demanding “swift and decisive action” after a “shocking” report into  cricket north of the border uncovered 448 examples of institutional racism.

Maree Todd spoke out after an independent review recommended that the sport’s governing body should now be put in “special measures”.

The entire board of Cricket Scotland had resigned en masse on Sunday – prior to the report being published.

But the body has already vowed to implement the recommendations made in the Changing The Boundaries report, which was produced by equality and diversity experts at Plan4Sport.

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

The report itself found Cricket Scotland failed 29 out of 31 indicators of institutional racism, with the organisation only partially passing the other two tests.

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

Louise Tideswell
Louise Tideswell, of Plan4Sport (left) and Stewart Harris, of sportscotland with the Changing the Boundaries report into cricket in Scotland (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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

An interim report in April revealed some incidents had been referred to police and it has now emerged that one individual has appeared in court as a result.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents to a survey had experienced, seen or received reports of racism or other forms of discrimination, the report revealed.

It also highlighted a lack of diversity or anti-racism training within the sport, as well as a lack of a consistent process for handling alleged racist incidents – while those who raised such issues were “sidelined or ignored”.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Todd said: “The sheer scale of institutional racism found by the review within Scottish cricket is shocking.

“The Scottish Government is absolutely clear that there is no place for racism or discrimination of any kind in sport, or indeed wider society.”

The minister continued: “Racism and racial inequalities do still exist within sport in Scotland, as they do across society, and these are longstanding issues which have resulted in ethnically diverse communities being consistently disadvantaged. This has to change.”

Ms Todd now plans to meet with Cricket Scotland to discuss the report and its findings.

She added: “Swift and decisive action must be taken, and lessons must be learned to ensure that racism, of any kind, will not happen within cricket, or any sport in Scotland.”

Former Scotland cricketer Majid Haq was one of those who raised concerns (Gareth Copley/PA)

Cricket Scotland interim chief executive officer, Gordon Arthur, described the report as being “watershed moment for cricket in Scotland” as he vowed taking forward its recommendations would be the “top priority” for the organisation.

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

He said the immediate priority was to get an independent referral process agreed and implemented so that investigations can start to take place.

The report meanwhile also recommended one of Scotland’s five regional associations – the Western District Cricket Union – also be placed in special measures by Cricket Scotland and immediately suspended from managing all disciplinary measures relating to its competitions.

Mr Arthur accepted: “The racism and discrimination that has taken place in the sport that we all love should never have been allowed to happen, or to go unchallenged for so long.

“I would like to again issue a heartfelt apology to all those who have been the victims of racism and discrimination in Scottish cricket. We recognise the impact this will have had on individuals and their families.

“We hope the report provides them with some reassurance that their voices have been heard, and we are sorry this did not happen sooner.”

The review had been ordered following allegations made by former Scotland cricket players Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh in November – with Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland describing its findings as “deeply concerning and in some cases shocking”.

He stated: “Today should also act as a wake-up call for all of Scottish sport. Racism is a societal problem and it is no longer good enough to simply be non-racist – Scottish sport must now be actively anti-racist.”

Ms Tideswell meanwhile praised the “bravery of so many people” who had come forward “to share their stories which had clearly impacted on their lives”, including “players who saw or heard racism and hostility, but kept coming back to play”.

However she said the leadership team at Cricket Scotland “failed to see the problems and, in failing to do so, enabled a culture of racially aggravated micro-aggressions to develop”.

Mr Harris pledged that sportscotland “will work with and support Cricket Scotland to help change the culture of Scottish cricket and that must now be the focus”.

He added: “There has been some progress in recent months but we need to see more steps being taken to address the issues raised.”