Azeem Rafiq racism: Yorkshire CCC welcome ECB’s 12-point action plan

Yorkshire have confirmed their commitment to stamping out discrimination in cricket by welcoming an action plan by the England and Wales Cricket Board in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq scandal.

Azeem Rafiq's revelations about racism in cricket have rocked the sport (Picture: SWPix.com)
Azeem Rafiq's revelations about racism in cricket have rocked the sport (Picture: SWPix.com)

Read More

Read More
Cricket bosses 'truly sorry' to Azeem Rafiq as they promise action over racism

Rafiq’s revelations over the last year about racism in the Yorkshire dressing room he experienced have rocked cricket, and the nature of the response by the club and the governing body have come under widespread scrutiny.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

High-profile players from Yorkshire’s past and present all faced allegations of racial abuse and more has come to light across the sport following Rafiq’s testimony to the DCMS committee on November 16.

A general view of Lord's cricket ground. (Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The ECB and its chief executive Tom Harrison came under fire for their response to the allegations, and so on Friday released a 12-point plan to tackle the problem. The plan has been developed jointly by the ECB, MCC, the PCA, NCCA Ltd, the First Class Counties, Women’s Regional Hosts and the Recreational County Cricket network, as a game-wide response to discrimination within the game.

It has been welcomed by Yorkshire’s new chairman, Lord Patel of Bradford OBE.

Lord Patel said: “It’s essential that the cricketing community comes together under strong leadership to tackle the issues of discrimination and racism which have been highlighted in recent weeks.

“We are supportive of all measures which make our sport better and welcome the agreed collective plan as a step on the road to recovery, including the important need for resources.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison arrives to attend a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee meeting in London on November 16 (Picture: PA)

“We will work alongside the ECB and the other counties to take ownership of what we need to do, conscious that the problems are complex and long-term. Time will be needed for the actions to have a genuine, demonstrable and positive impact on the game we love, and the proof will be through implementation at a county and local level.

“We are aware that the ECB will be monitoring progress across the game. We recognise that significant change is required at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and are committed to taking action.

“I am determined to make sure that we learn from the mistakes of the past so that we can become a Club which people can trust.”

A statement from the ECB outlined the action plan.

Members of the England team stand for a Moment of Unity whilst wearing Anti-Discrimination T-shirts alongside New Zealand and the Officials prior to Day 1 of the First LV= Insurance Test Match between England and New Zealand at Lord's Cricket Ground. (Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

It read: “The measures agreed today include a series of immediate changes as well as the instigation of a review period that will incorporate the work of the ICEC and other inquiries into discrimination in cricket. The initial aims include:

“Understanding and educating more

1: Adoption within three months of a standardised approach to reporting, investigating, and responding to complaints, allegations, and whistleblowing across the game.

2: Full promotion of the aims of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) through proactive engagement with its investigations and recommendations.

3: Ongoing EDI training for all those who work in cricket, including all staff, volunteers, recreational club officials, umpires, directors, and coaches.

“Addressing dressing room culture

4: A full review of dressing room culture in all men’s and women’s professional teams, both domestic and international.

5: Delivery of a redesigned programme of player and coach education, addressing any gaps identified through the dressing room review.

“Removing barriers in talent pathways

6: Action to aid progress into professional teams of people from diverse backgrounds (especially South Asian, Black and less privileged youngsters) through measures to address i) talent identification and scouting, ii) education and diversity of coaches and iii) targeted support programmes for players from diverse or under-privileged backgrounds.

“Creating welcoming environments for all

7: A full-scale review, in advance of the 2022 season, into the detection, enforcement, and sanctions against discriminatory and abusive crowd behaviour at each of our professional cricket grounds.

8: Delivery of plans (tailored to local communities) to ensure professional cricket venues are welcoming to all, including provision of accessible seating, food and beverage offering catering to all faiths and cultures, and the availability of facilities such as multi-faith rooms and alcohol-free zones.

9: Upgraded education in recreational cricket to ensure players, volunteers and coaches understand and champion inclusion and diversity in the game.

“Publishing localised EDI Action Plans within six months

“The ECB will today publish its 2021-2023 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan with clear actions and targets. The ECB will then work with any of its memberswho do not yet have an EDI plan in place to create (or revise) their own localised version within six months, with actions to include:

10: A commitment to best practice governance with targets for Board diversity (30% female, locally representative ethnicity by April 2022) and plans to increase diversity across the wider organisation. (Compliance will be subject to a “comply or explain” provision to ensure Counties can respect their own governance processes in making the required change).

11: The introduction of fairer recruitment processes through measures including the immediate adoption of anonymised recruitment tools for senior roles, open appointment processes for all roles and the use of balanced and diverse panels to assess interviews.

12: Every senior executive employed across the game will have personal EDI objectives as part of their annual performance targets, driving leadership accountability.

“To be transparent and build trust, the game will provide regular updates on progress against delivery of the action plan and EDI goals.

“To underpin the actions being taken across the cricket network, the ECB has committed to providing additional resources and take several further steps in support of consistent progress across the game. These have been agreed with the game and will include:

“A review of governance and regulation in cricket to identify any opportunities to strengthen the structures and processes across the game

“£25 million of strategic funding over five years in support of EDI actions

“The formation of a new anti-discrimination unit, within six months, to ensure that the ECB has the right resources and capabilities to help tackle discrimination in all its forms and provide guidance to the wider game

“The inclusion, with immediate effect, of EDI minimum standards for all venues

“A link between funding and EDI minimum standards, including withholding central distributions where necessary to ensure all stakeholders meet agreed standards

“Collaboration with Sport England to help the whole game to achieve the increased diversity of Boards.”

Tom Harrison, chief executive of the ECB, said: “For cricket truly to ‘connect communities and improve lives’ – our stated aim at the ECB – we must start by accepting that not enough has happened to make our game better, both inside our own walls and across the wider game. That is the only possible reaction to the powerful testimony of Azeem Rafiq and others in recent weeks.

“I am delighted that this plan represents the whole game coming together to commit to tangible action and meaningful change. Our role as the ECB will now be to acknowledge the changes that need to be made internally, as well as offer support, resource, and funding to assist the game in making these changes. We look forward to working with our partners across the game to create a stronger, more inclusive sport and build back the trust of everyone who loves cricket.”