Cricket Scotland found to be institutionally racist in damning report

After an independent report found that Cricket Scotland was institutionally racist, ITV News' Sports Editor Steve Scott sat down with the athletes who spoke out

An independent report into racism in cricket in Scotland should serve as a "wake-up call" after it delivered a damning indictment of institutional racism within the sport and governing body

Consultancy firm Plan4Sport was appointed by sportscotland, the national agency for sport, to begin conducting the review in December last year after former Scotland players Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh alleged the governing body was “institutionally racist”. The report's authors praised the "bravery" of those who came forward to tell their own experiences.

The Plan4Sport Changing The Boundaries review found 448 examples of institutional racism. As part of the review, 68 individual concerns have been referred for further investigation relating to 31 allegations of racism against 15 different people, two clubs and one regional association.

Former Scotland player Qasim Sheikh says he 'can't see any other reason' apart from race for why his international cricket career ended

The allegations include racial abuse, use of inappropriate language, favouritism towards white children from public schools and a lack of a transparent selection process.

The review - described as a "watershed moment" for the sport - also found a lack of any diversity or anti-racist training; no consistent process for handling racist incidents, with people who did raise issues “sidelined or ignored,” a lack of diversity from board level to the coaching workforce and within the talent pathway, and a lack of transparency in the selection process.

In some instances, multiple concerns have been raised against individuals, the report said.

It recommended Cricket Scotland should be placed under special measures until October 2023.

The review was prompted by allegations from former Scotland players Majid Haq (pictured) and Qasim Sheikh in November. Credit: PA

Other key findings include:

  • 62% of all survey respondents had experienced, seen, or had reported to them incidents of racism, inequalities or discrimination.

  • A lack of any EDI or anti-racist training in place for board, staff, volunteers, players, coaches or umpires.

  • No consistent mechanism or process for handling racist incidents and people who did raise issues were sidelined or ignored.

  • A lack of diversity from board level and Hall of Fame right through the coaching workforce within the talent pathway.

  • Lack of transparency in the selection process in the talent pathway and the absence of a single uniform approach to selection.

Staff and consultants working on the review have spoken to more than 200 people, including international players, and several hundred more have taken part in an anonymous online survey.

Managing Director of Plan4Sport, Louise Tideswell, said: “We’ve been working on the review since January this year and our view is clear: the governance and leadership practices of Cricket Scotland have been institutionally racist. 

Scotland's Majid Haq. Credit: PA

“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."

Cricket Scotland interim chief executive Gordon Arthur, who started in his role earlier this month, issued a “heartfelt apology” to the victims of racism and other discrimination.

“We hope the report provides them with some reassurance that their voices have been heard, and we are sorry this did not happen sooner,” he added.

Ex-cricketer Majid Haq: 'It's left me really mentally exhausted, emotionally drained'

“This report is a watershed moment for cricket in Scotland and taking its recommendations forward is the top priority. It’s clear that significant cultural change must happen and it must happen quickly.

“We must address the past, repair the sport and ensure history does not repeat itself and we will need everyone’s commitment to make this change happen.”

Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh welcomed the report's findings.

Qasim Sheikh reacts during a press conference. Credit: PA

Sheikh told ITV News "he can't see any reason" apart from race for why his international cricket career ended.

"As a person of colour, it's like out of sight, out of mind. 'You've gone against the institution, you've spoken against people, we can't join you'," he said.

Meanwhile, Haq said his experiences had left him "really mentally exhausted" and "emotionally drained".

The pair's solicitor, Aamer Anwar, said the report was a "total vindication" for his clients.

“Today’s report is the most devastating verdict of racism to be delivered on any sporting institution in the United Kingdom- ‘Institutionally racist’ Cricket Scotland is not fit for purpose," he said in a statement.

He said the "comprehensive and robust investigation" was the first time his clients were "treated with compassion".

"Majid and Qasim’s achievements rather than being celebrated were considered worthless, they played cricket in a system that tolerated systemic racism and the fear of exclusion underpinned an entire system of inequality."

Both Haq and Sheikh have been in close contact with Azeem Rafiq, whose revelations about racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club led to them speaking out.

Chief Executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said the findings were "deeply concerning".

'The processes, attitudes and behaviours of Cricket Scotland meet the Macpherson definition of institutional racism,' Plan4Sport boss Louise Tideswell says

He continued: "This will have been a very difficult, and in some cases traumatic experience, and we hope this report provides the victims with some degree of assurance that their voices have been heard and that action will be taken," he said.

“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.

“As the national agency for sport, we will work with and support Cricket Scotland to help change the culture of Scottish cricket and that must now be the focus."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know

The entire Cricket Scotland board resigned 24 hours before the report. Board members said they had stepped down in order for new governance structures to be created to implement the report’s recommendations.

In a letter to recently-appointed interim chief executive Gordon Arthur, the board members stated they had been fully committed to implementing the review’s findings and had made “important initial steps” to improve the leadership and governance of the sport.

An interim report in April revealed that the review had resulted in police involvement. Referrals were made to Children First, Police Scotland plus HR and legal experts to ensure allegations of racism were investigated fully. Other issues including “misogyny, leadership, and governance concerns” also surfaced.