Take government funding away from cricket if it does not tackle racism issue, report says

The report was carried out in the wake of Azeem Rafiq's evidence. Credit: PA

Cricket should be starved of government funds if it fails to successfully tackle the game’s racism crisis.

The recommendation comes in a report from a group of MPs who questioned Azeem Rafiq about his experiences as a player at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

The chair of the DCMS committee Julian Knight MP said: “The powerful evidence given to this Committee by Azeem Rafiq convinced us that his story was typical of an endemic problem across the whole of cricket.”

That belief he says was reinforced following Rafiq’s testimony: “We have been shocked by language people used in correspondence with us after the hearing.

"That, together with stories run in the media to discredit him, demonstrate that eradicating racism from the game will be a long and difficult road.”

The MPs accuse Yorkshire CCC and the ECB of being aware of racism in cricket and are now demanding the governing body comes up with a system of recording its progress and that it then reports that to the Committee four times a year.

Rafiq himself welcomed the recommendations: “It is absolutely brilliant that the committee are going to hold the ECB to account every quarter. This 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.” 

A sign outside Yorkshire's Headingley ground. Credit: PA

Barry O’Brien, Interim ECB Chair, who is overseeing a 12 point action plan the governing body has already unveiled said: “We embrace the ongoing scrutiny of the committee and all those that love the game of cricket who will be watching closely as we undertake the continuous, demonstrable, progress in eradicating racism from the dressing room and from the stands. We are determined to root out racism – and other forms of discrimination - from our sport. 

“We are deeply sorry for the pain people have suffered and recognise the courage it has taken to speak out. By working with the game to deliver the Action Plan, and continuing to listen and learn from people’s experiences, we are determined to make cricket a stronger, more welcoming sport.”

After a wholesale clear-out of senior staff, Yorkshire has appointed former England star Darren Gough as its director of cricket.

Watch ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent's interview with Lord Patel

Meanwhile the club’s new chairman, Lord Patel, who is leading the overhaul at Headingley said this week it would be a “catastrophe” if they could not host Test match cricket again. Yorkshire have lost numerous sponsors and have been banned from staging key matches as a result of the racism scandal.

The sheer scale of cricket’s problem is highlighted by the four thousand people who have already submitted complaints to The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket since Rafiq’s allegations were made public.