Cricket has been warned it will lose public money if it does not clean up its act on racism in a withering condemnation of the English game.
A report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee following Azeem Rafiq’s appearance in front of MPs two months ago concludes there is ‘deep-seated’ racism within the domestic game.
The former Yorkshire player provided evidence in parliament at an inquiry set up because Yorkshire’s investigation into Rafiq’s allegations of racism at Headingley led to no disciplinary action.
Now England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison is under the spotlight after being warned there is ‘a long and difficult road ahead’ for cricket.
The committee, chaired by MP Julian Knight, called on the ECB to develop a set of key indicators and then provide updates to parliament on its progress every three months.
Yorkshire, now under a new chair in Lord Patel, will also be expected to report to parliament and if MPs are not happy cricket will face a cut in Government funding.
English cricket risks losing public funding if it does not tackle its racism problem head on
‘We are watching closely and fully intend to ensure cricket cleans up its act,’ the report said. ‘We recommend the Government ensures any future public funds for cricket are dependent on continuous, demonstrable progress in getting rid of racism in both the dressing rooms and in the stands.’
It is a verdict welcomed by whistle blower Rafiq, who said: ‘The DCMS committee has listened and taken sensible action. It is absolutely brilliant that Julian Knight and his colleagues on the committee are going to hold the ECB to account every quarter.
‘That shows just how seriously politicians are taking an issue that too many people in cricket ignored for so long. The committee understands how important it is to clean up the game.’
Knight had earlier welcomed Rafiq’s column in Wednesday’s Sportsmail in which he appealed for cricket to move forward with ‘love and compassion’ and the report went on to applaud Rafiq’s ‘conviction that this is not just a personal issue but an endemic problem across the whole of cricket’.
A report by the DCMS Select Committee concluded that there is a ‘deep seated’ racism issue in the sport after revelations made by former Yorkshire star Azeem Rafiq
Cricket has been warned that if it does not clean up its act then public funding will be pulled
The ECB and Harrison will now come under increased pressure to make sure the 12-point plan they introduced in November to tackle racism really is the answer.
The plan included a review of dressing-room culture, diversity training for all those in the sport, a drive to remove barriers to playing top-level cricket and an examination of how stadiums can become more welcoming to people from diverse backgrounds.
Lord Patel has already orchestrated major change at Headingley, including the sacking of head coach Andrew Gale and 15 others who signed a letter alleging Rafiq was out to destroy Yorkshire.
He also made former Yorkshire and England bowler Darren Gough interim director of cricket at the club, a move backed by Rafiq in Sportsmail this week.