Azeem Rafiq’s revelations about racism lead to ‘frank’ talks between government and the cricket board

Support us and go ad-free

The government has held “frank” conversations with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and others over racism in the sport, MPs have heard. Sports minister Nigel Huddleston made the disclosure after acknowledging Azeem Rafiq’s testimony to MPs was “harrowing” and “difficult to hear”.

This is where Rafiq reveals the horrific racist abuse he was endlessly subjected to:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free
Allegations against former England players

The Yorkshire whistleblower made a series of new allegations that implicated a handful of high-profile former England players during an appearance in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee this week.

MPs across the political spectrum have reacted with horror and anger at Rafiq’s testimony of the “inhuman” treatment he suffered during his time at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

The government has previously vowed to “step in” if Yorkshire and the ECB fail to take “real action” in response to the racism crisis.

Government response

Speaking in the Commons, Conservative MP Julian Knight – who chairs the select committee – asked Huddleston if he shared his consternation that “the former chair of Yorkshire hadn’t even read the seminal Fletcher report into the lack of inclusivity at the county”.

Knight added:

Does he agree with me the response to Mr Rafiq’s brave testimony in this House has not only to be to clear out the Augean stables in Yorkshire, but to ensure the institutionally racist blocking of minority community talent is stopped forever?

We need a Kick It Out for cricket, right now.

Huddleston, in his reply, said:

The Fletcher report, which was pretty old, was clearly not acted upon, it should have been.

He added:

We’ve had very frank conversations with ECB and others involved in cricket over the last couple of weeks. I have had reassurance that they take the issue seriously and will act.

(ECB chief executive) Tom Harrison has promised me that with every fibre of his being he will take action here.

We will judge them on their deeds and not their words, and if they fail to act appropriately we will not hesitate to intervene further.

TV presenter Adil Ray shared this reminder of prime minister Boris Johnson’s racist and Islamophobic comments:


Labour respond

For Labour, shadow culture minister Alison McGovern claimed those who failed to deal with cultures of racism in sport will “ruin our country’s reputation, not build it”.

As she addressed the claims made by Rafiq, McGovern added:

I know that you (Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle) and I, all members and ministers and shadow ministers in this House were heartbroken listening to Azeem Rafiq, but as the minister himself said it’s deeds, not words, that will make a difference.

That goes for the Government as well.

Can I ask the minister if he will place in the Commons library any correspondence that he has had with the Equality and Human Rights Commission and can he tell the House what discussions he has had with them about their powers and resources, and whether they are enough to deal with what we know and have known for a long time are chronic problems in sport?

As reported by The Canary, the Labour Party has a number of questions to answer when it comes to racism. This was also pointed out by some on Twitter following this tweet from deputy leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner:

Huddleston replied to McGovern:

I will happily place documents that are appropriate, I cannot promise to put every single document or discussion as she knows there are sometimes confidentiality and frank discussions concerns that may inhibit our ability to place every single piece of correspondence.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us