Cricket-UK govt backs calls to cut funding unless ECB tackles racism

NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day
FILE PHOTO: Britain Cricket - NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day - Edgbaston - 20/8/16 Yorkshire's Azeem Rafiq celebrates the wicket of Durham's Ben Stokes Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs

March 24, 2022

(Reuters) – The British government has supported a parliamentary committee’s recommendation to limit public funding for cricket unless the sport can demonstrate continuous progress in getting rid of racism, it said on Thursday.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport parliamentary committee issued its report in January, saying cricket must clean up its act or face cuts in funding.

Former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq, who is of Pakistani descent, appeared before the committee in November to detail the “inhuman” treatment he suffered at county level and said the sport in England was institutionally racist.

“Public funding is already explicitly linked to the development and implementation of robust diversity and inclusion policies and plans – in cricket and beyond,” the government said.

“The Government and Sport England has left the ECB (England & Wales Cricket Board) in no doubt on the need to make progress in this regard.”

The committee had also called for quarterly reports and monitoring by indicators developed by the ECB, which the government has now endorsed.

“The Government will continue to call in the ECB quarterly and track their progress in tackling racism and increasing diversity, and will hold them to account for delivery against the joint 12-point action plan published in November 2021,” it added.

“We expect to see evidence of improvements across the sport and delivery on the ECB’s ambition to eradicate racism from cricket.

“However, if these changes are not made and implemented, the Government reserves the right to intervene further. This has been made clear to the ECB and the first-class counties.”

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru)