Cricket Scotland board resigns before publication of ‘devastating’ racism report
The board of Cricket Scotland has resigned on the eve of the publication of a review into institutional racism in the sport in the country.
The report, commissioned by SportScotland, is due to be published on Monday, and came in the wake of allegations from the former Scotland bowler, Majid Haq, who did not play again after being sent home from the 2015 World Cup. Haq later claimed he had been victimised on the grounds of race.
The report’s findings are expected to uphold Haq’s claims, along with those of his former team-mate Qasim Sheikh, that both men suffered abuse throughout their careers, in a situation similar to the experience of the former Yorkshire cricketer, Azeem Rafiq, who last year told a parliamentary hearing that English cricket was institutionally racist.
In their joint resignation letter to interim CEO Gordon Arthur, Cricket Scotland’s board members apologised for the culture that they had overseen, and acknowledged that the findings of the report would constitute a “watershed moment for Scottish sport and society”.
“We are all truly sorry and have apologised publicly to everyone who has experienced racism, or any other form of discrimination, in cricket in Scotland,” the board wrote. “This is, without doubt, the start of another long journey to overhaul and modernise the governance of the sport to ensure its continued success in the years ahead.”
The board members acknowledged the “significant support” of SportScotland in their bid to modernise the sport’s governance, but recognised that the “proposed timescales” and “certain mandated actions” for change were not achievable within the existing governance framework.
“To deliver a thorough, fair and speedy resolution to the issues raised about racism, and the other [programme] to overhaul and modernise the governance of the sport are individually huge challenges for a small organisation like Cricket Scotland.
“Consequently, we believe we must now step aside to enable the required progress to be made in the coming months.”
The board said that it had not yet seen the full contents of the report. However, Aamer Anwar, the lawyer representing Haq and Sheikh, said that its findings were “devastating” and added in an interview with the BBC that he expected the change at the top to be just the start.
“Many who have followed in [Haq’s and Sheikh’s] footsteps have complained about a culture of systemic bullying, of racism, of humiliation and there has never been any accountability and transparency,” Anwar said. “What about the selectors, what about some of the umpires, what about the boards on local leagues because it would appear that if you are a person of colour then you face systemic racism.”
A spokesperson for Cricket Scotland said: “This has been an exceptionally challenging time for everyone involved in Scottish cricket.
“We have been made aware of the board’s decision and as the national agency for sport, we will take immediate steps to provide significant additional governance and leadership support to Cricket Scotland.” (ESPNcricinfo)