Sports

‘Racism is a blight on cricket’

Cricket chiefs in England and Wales say racism and discrimination is a “blight” on our game and they “apologise unreservedly”.

A game-wide meeting was held on Friday following Azeem Rafiq’s testimony about the racism he experienced at Yorkshire.

Rafiq told a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday that English cricket is “institutionally racist”.

“Our game must win back your trust,” ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said.

Representatives from the ECB, the Professional Cricketers’ Association, Marylebone Cricket Club, the National Counties Cricket Association and the First Class and Recreational County Cricket network attended Friday’s meeting at The Oval in London.

“Azeem Rafiq has shone a light on our game that has shocked, shamed and saddened us all,” a joint statement read.

“To Azeem and all those who have experienced any form of discrimination, we are truly sorry.

“Our sport did not welcome you, our game did not accept you as we should have done. We apologise unreservedly for the suffering you have faced.”

The statement said the group had committed to “tangible action” to make cricket “more open and inclusive and ensuring effective governance”.

Further details will be published next week.

The ECB has been heavily criticised for its handling of the racism scandal at Yorkshire.

Speaking on Friday, Harrison said he felt “very determined” to lead change through the game.

“As a father of two girls, I do want to make sure I leave a game that has absolutely the right safe kind of environment for everyone to feel welcomed and for everyone to feel a sense of belonging in,” he added.

“I did receive the backing of the game today.”

Lincolnshire chairman Rob Bradley told BBC Sport there was “a lot of strong feeling” in the room about the racism crisis.

“I think the ECB are going to hold their hands up to things. This game has got to stand up and represent everybody equally,” he said.

Asked if he wanted Harrison to stay, Bradley replied: “Yes, definitely. I think we have a lot to learn from this.”

Harrison also appeared in front of the DCMS committee on Tuesday and told MPs that English cricket is approaching an “emergency” over its failure to address racism.

He also said the ECB had “struggled” to get the first-class game to “wake up”.

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