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‘You don’t get the same opportunities as a white player’: Majid Haq hits out at Cricket Scotland

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Former Scotland cricket player Majid Haq has claimed “you don’t get the same opportunities as a white player” from his experience as a player for the national squad.

An author of an independent report on Cricket Scotland has admitted she is "shocked" after the governing body failed 29 of 31 indicators of institutional racism.

The report was commissioned by Sportscotland in December after former Scotland players Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh made claims of racism in the wake of revelations from Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

And Haq maintains he had to overperform to be picked. He said: “You don’t get the same opportunities as a white player. You always have to play twice as well to get anywhere near the same opportunity as a white cricketer.”

The independent review has recommended that the body be placed in special measures by Sportscotland after 448 examples of institutional racism were uncovered.

Haq speaks during a news conference (Getty)
Haq speaks during a news conference (Getty)

Following an investigation by consultancy firm Plan4Sport, it was also revealed that the governing Scottish cricket body only partially passed the other two tests. The findings of the report have been described as a “wake-up call”.

Haq said: “It’s a massive relief but still so much more to come. A lot of work is to be done so the people in charge of institutions need to be diverse. I hope things will be easier for young cricketers. I hope they get more opportunities and get welcomed into an open and inclusive environment.

“We need to get the right people in charge of the organisation. The players will have to go through diversity training. Culture, education at a young age, and parenting are very important. Understand how things work in Asian culture.”

Qasim Sheikh during a press conference at Stirling Court Hotel (PA)
Qasim Sheikh during a press conference at Stirling Court Hotel (PA)

A whole new board is expected to be named soon. The report recommended that the next board should be comprised of 25 per cent of those from a Black or Asian background. The board resigned 24 hours before the publication of the report. Majid Haq believes it will take time to rebuild trust between Asian players and Cricket Scotland.

“Sportscotland has been complacent in allowing this to fester for a long time. I would be very happy if someone from the board contacts me once things settle down to help move things forward and serve in an advisory role,” said Haq.

Majid Haq has experienced depression because of the psychological impact of years of racial abuse. He left the national team in 2015 and this was a catalyst for his mental health spiralling on a downwards trajectory. “Mentally, I’m not in the right place, I suffer from depression.”

Cricketers Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh arrive with lawyer Aamer Anwar (Getty)
Cricketers Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh arrive with lawyer Aamer Anwar (Getty)

“What kind of views parents and grandparents have affects children, it goes so far back. It’s important to get teachers educated in diversity and inclusion. It’s important to see people of colour in positions of power and teaching.

“The Scottish government need to get more involved. They are giving public funding to Cricket Scotland. They need to have a more hands-on role.

“I was told I was the highest paid player, everything was very hush-hush, and there wasn’t any transparency there. I used to take them by their word, only the accounts can tell.”

The left-handed batsman grew up in Paisley and graduated from the University of the West of Scotland with an honours degree in accountancy. The former off-spin bowler currently works with an accountancy firm. He believes Islamic studies should be incorporated into the school curriculum to help educate children.

“Get to know one another on a human level rather than have pre-conceived ideas,” said Haq.

The players have asked for a public apology for what they went through. The interim CEO of Cricket Scotland has not thus far personally apologised to the players.

One of the key findings of the report found that 62 per cent of respondents have experienced, seen or reported racism or discrimination. The report also found there was a lack of equality, diversity and inclusion or anti-racist training for staff, and a lack of diversity in the boardroom and coaching team.

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