Cricket Scotland "institutionally racist" and "enabled a culture of racially aggravated micro-aggressions"

More than 400 examples of racially-motivated discrimination see 68 referred for further investigation relating to 31 allegations against 15 individuals, two clubs and one regional association. Examples have been forwarded to Police Scotland


Cricket Scotland have been found to have overseen a culture of racism by an independent investigation into their operation.

The Plan4Sport Changing The Boundaries report have the governance and leadership of the body, formed in its current guise in 1908, to be "institutionally racist".

They were also accused of having "enabled a culture of racially aggravated micro-aggressions".

The six-month process found 448 examples that demonstrated institutional racism. Of the 31 performance indicators used by Plan4Sport - adopted from Sir Williams MacPherson's 1999 report into the Met Police) they failed 29 and only partially reached the standard on the remaining two.

Ahead of the publication of the 52-page report, the entire Cricket Scotland board resigned with immediate effect.

Sportscotland have been advised to place Cricket Scotland into special measures and a number of recommendations have been made regarding its structure, and anti-racism approach to ensure it restores trust.

Managing director of Plan4Sport Louise Tideswell said: "Our view is clear: the governance and leadership practices of Cricket Scotland have been institutionally racist.

"The reality is that the leadership of the organisation failed to see the problems and, in failing to do so, enabled a culture of racially aggravated micro-aggressions to develop. 

"It didn’t address the lack of diversity at board and staff level and missed the need to develop transparent reporting, investigation and case management processes to address incidents of racism and discrimination."


Majid Haq played 54 ODIs and 21 T20Is for Scotland (William West/Tom Shaw)

"The findings in this report are deeply concerning and in some cases shocking," the chief executive of sportscotland Stewart Harris added. 

"Sport should be a welcoming place for all and it is unacceptable that anyone has suffered racist abuse and discrimination while playing the game they love.

"We will keep all options on the table as we hold Cricket Scotland to account on all of the recommendations contained within this report.  

"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."

Interim Cricket Scotland CEO Gordon Arthur says the body is committed to implementing the recommendations from the report and "building and fostering a culture of inclusivity".

Accusations of institutional racism, the same as was levelled by Azeem Rafiq towards Yorkshire, by former Scotland players Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh sparked the investigation which has run for the first six months of 2022.

Nearly 1,000 direct engagements across the sport have supplemented the investigation, including one-to-one interviews and online surveys.

Of the more than 400 examples of institutional racism, 68 individual concerns have been referred for further investigation. There were 31 allegations of racism against 15 different people, two clubs and one regional association. Those investigations will be completed in due course and expedited to an independent party.


Qasim Sheikh playing against the MCC at Lord's (Tom Shaw/Tom Shaw)

Feedback from 325 responses to three online surveys found 122 examples of reports of seeing, hearing or had reported to them incidents of racism, and 49 relating to religion or belief.

Some incidents have been passed to Police Scotland for further investigation.

Among the key findings was a lack of any EDI or anti-racism training for board members, Cricket Scotland staff, volunteers, players, coaches or umpires, no mechanism for reporting incidents and a lack of diversity across the game including in the talent pathway.

Part of the investigation exposed a major flaw in Cricket Scotland's approach to diversity and anti-racism.

A request for documentation around corporate management, people management or other operational cricket-related activities saw 76 per cent of them rated either red or amber meaning it either didn't exist, weren't provided or included no mention of anti-racism or EDI.

Just three per cent were classed to be at a good level. Their entire outlook on diversity and values was described as "disjointed and inconsistent".

Meetings took place with each of the five regional associations (East of Scotland Cricket Association (ESCA), North of Scotland Cricket Association (NOSCA), North East Scotland SCIO (NESCA), Strathmore and Perthshire Cricket Union (SPCU), Western District Cricket Union (WDCU)).

The report found a major disconnect between the main governing body and the regions, with a lack of support around EDI education and awareness in the context of their roles in cricket.

"Plan4Sport have submitted a series of recommendations to sportscotland and want Cricket Scotland placed under special measures until October 2023"

Currently, none of the five has access to any anti-racism or EDI training and there is a lack of guidance about how they could apply an anti-racism and EDI lens. One WDCU volunteer said: "It was very difficult to work in West Scotland and not witness racism."

Many staff across the Scottish cricket network complained of "micro-aggressive terms" in relation to racism, sexism, and homophobia, particularly when meeting Regional Association volunteers.

Of the participants that contributed to the investigations, including players, they cited issues around:

• Inappropriate use of language, in some cases which would be racist but considered simply as "banter"

• Concern that sledging is being used as an excuse to racially abuse opposition players

• Lack of understanding of the impact of language and behaviour on individuals

• Inadequate systems to report racism on and off the pitch

• No willingness, in some instances, to deal with discriminatory incidents

• Lack of diversity of players, coaches, and umpires within the game.

• The lack of leadership from the board in relation to anti-racism, and more broadly

• Their lack of trust and confidence in Cricket Scotland to manage allegations of racism effectively

• The lack of clear and transparent processes

• The fact that there is no off-field reporting mechanism in place

• That some people who had previously raised concerns had been victimised as a result


The entire Cricket Scotland board resigned ahead of the release of the report

Contributors also cited problems around a lack of diversity in the coaching workforce, transparency in the talent identification selection process, and a notable lack of women or people with disabilities.

Specific allegations centred around the persistent use of alcohol at socials with a lack of consideration for different religious practices and beliefs, and the behaviour of some club volunteers towards non-white people. 

One participant raised excessive membership fees for South-East Asian players over their white counterparts in a particular club because they did not purchase alcohol or food in the bar after matches, despite the lack of consideration for halal, vegetarian, vegan, or other food provisions.

The Cricket Scotland Hall of Fame was also criticised for largely lacking diversity and ignoring women.

Exchanges with board members found a lack of understanding regarding its role as a governing body. Some drew reference to the board only being concerned with the Scotland men's team and having no interest in developing other parts of the sport.

Thirty clubs from across the country were randomly invited to participate and said they had no mechanism for reporting incidents of racism or discrimination.

Some clubs complained of South-East Asian players speaking in their own community language during matches, inferring they were and should only be allowed to speak in English.

One exchange with a representative include a boast that racism would never happen at their club, a conversation that included the use of out-of-date language in the context of race.

As well as repeating a number of aforementioned concerns, on-field umpires and match officials said they lacked confidence in Cricket Scotland to tackle complaints and said they had left the sport as a result of their experiences.

"We will keep all options on the table as we hold Cricket Scotland to account on all of the recommendations contained within this report"

Of the concerns to be referred, they include issues around racial abuse, use of inappropriate language, favouritism of young white public school children and a lack of transparency around the selection of non-white players.

From the online surveys, 62 per cent of respondents had experienced racism, inequality or discrimination in some form in Scottish cricket. Nearly half (46.4 per cent) were race-related, while issues around gender (21.7) and religion and beliefs (18.6) were also a factor.

Of those to have first-hand experience, 41 per took said they took no action due to a lack of confidence in national and local governance.

Plan4Sport have submitted a series of recommendations to sportscotland and want Cricket Scotland placed under special measures until October 2023.

They want a new board to be appointed by the end of September and comprised of a minimum of 40 per cent men and women with a minimum of 25 per cent drawn from black, South-East Asian, or other mixed or multiple ethnic groups.

A similar measure should also be taken against WDCU, with Plan4Sport asking for a full investigation into their practises.

Finally, Cricket Scotland have been asked to quickly tackle all referrals and historic cases generated from the review.

However, there is little confidence that Cricket Scotland will act on the recommendations. Just 38 per cent of those from non-white backgrounds agreed or strongly agreed that change will be implemented when surveyed.

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