New Essex Cricket boss steps down after three days over anti-Semitism claims

021222 azeem akhtar
Credit: Essex Cricket
Azeem Akhtar's appointment was announced on Monday Credit: Essex Cricket

The chairman of a cricket club dogged by racism allegations has stepped down just three days into the job, following accusations of antisemitism.

Azeem Akhtar was appointed on Monday and Essex County Cricket Club welcomed his arrival as the "beginning of a new era" for the club, after the previous chairman resigned over allegations he had used racist language.

Now an independent review is being carried out into allegations that Akhtar had previously endorsed antisemitic sentiments on social media.

Essex cricket's previous chairman John Faragher resigned in November 2021 after suggestions he had used racist language at a board meeting.

Previous chair John Faragher had to step down after allegations he had used racist language Credit: Essex Cricket

Several players have made allegations about being racially abused while they played at Essex.

Jahid Ahmed, a British Bangladeshi, said he endured taunts about his ethnicity and religion, and was called a "curry-muncher".

At the time the club launched investigations and said it wanted to make sure the abuse never happened again.

New chair Mr Akhtar said he had decided to stand aside while the independent review took place.

“I have made the decision to initiate this review because it is important that I as chair and Essex County Cricket Club more widely hold ourselves to the highest standards of governance and accountability. By stepping aside, I want to show leadership and ensure the club can focus on the ongoing challenges it is tackling.

“I am resolutely committed to ensuring that Essex County Cricket Club is an inclusive and welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds.”

Essex County Cricket Club said it supported his decision, adding: "Essex and Azeem Akhtar are determined to uphold the values of strong leadership, governance and accountability. By initiating this review, Azeem has demonstrated his commitment to those core values."

The club said it was committed to tackling discrimination and racism and had a zero-tolerance approach. It added that it wanted to make the club a safe and welcoming place where everyone, no matter of background, could play a major part.

Essex’s deputy chair Sir Stephen O’Brien will take on duties as chair on an interim basis, while Anu Mohindru KC will step up as interim deputy chair.

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