Newsletter Signup
22 Nov 2021

Cricket urged to adopt organisation like football's 'Kick It Out' to tackle racism

MP Julia Knight has called for an organisation similar to Kick It Out, who deal with racism in football, to be implemented into cricket.

The ECB have been urged to introduce a cricket-equivalent organisation similar to Kick It Out following the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal, says DCMS Chair Committee Julian Knight MP.

Former Yorkshire player Rafiq gave his account of the troubling issues of racism within the domestic game, particularly the culture within his former club.

Rafiq, who was born in Pakistan and raised in Barnsley, spoke today before MPs under parliamentary privilege at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Select Committee hearing regarding the allegations.

Knight chaired Tuesday’s hearing where the 30-year-old gave an emotional testimony of his ordeals at the county club, and she believes cricket would benefit from an organisation like Kick It Out, which tackles racism and discrimination in football.

“I feel as though I have been complacent. I did not think that it [cricket] was systematically racist,” Knight told Sky Sports News . “There was clearly a serious problem at Yorkshire, and there may have been instances elsewhere, but we can’t put anything off the table.

“We need a ‘Kick It Out’ for cricket, like in football. The idea that we can have people using these phrases, harassing, bullying, excluding individuals such as Mr Rafiq.

Thank Azeem Rafiq for his bravery in speaking out – Yorkshire CCC Chair

“It is utterly almost beyond comprehension – but we need to understand it, and ensure that going forward we have a sport that is transparent and clean. That means complete governance reform in my view.

“It isn’t a quick fix, it’s more deeply rooted than I thought when I started off in this inquiry a few months ago. We need to make sure the ECB has the powers in place to get a hold of the counties so we do not have a repeat of what we have seen at Yorkshire.”

“The racism has been exacerbated by the report and the way the investigation was conducted by Yorkshire, which in my view looked as if it was a means by which to keep Mr Rafiq quiet and out of the public domain.

“It took a parliamentary session to ensure that absolute horrors after several years, Mr Rafiq was able to speak the truth.”

During Monday’s emotional hearing, Knight led the questioning as Rafiq provided evidence while protected by parliamentary privilege. He bravely told MPs present that the slur ‘P***’ was constantly used during his time with the club, which spanned two different spells.

Rafiq named both Gary Ballance and Alex Hales – who were close friends – when discussing the racist culture at Yorkshire CCC.

He also described the horrific experience of drinking alcohol when he was 15 as he had red wine poured forcefully down his throat.

“I think the thing that struck most of all amongst many horrific instances that Mr Rafiq has suffered is probably the holding down as a 15-year-old boy and pouring down his neck a bottle of wine,” Knight added.

“I contrasted this abuse of a child, actually, with England’s players asking Moeen Ali to step away during a champagne celebration so he didn’t get sprayed, which was held as a moment of this inclusivity.

“We need to ensure the sport going forwards is cleaned out top to bottom, because we can’t see a great sport ruined in this way.”