ECB attacked for failing to carry out historic racism probe

·3-min read
ECB attacked for failing to carry out historic racism probe - PA
ECB attacked for failing to carry out historic racism probe - PA

The ECB is facing criticism from anti-discrimination campaigners after admitting it may be unable to investigate historic claims that a Yorkshire academy player was called a "smelly P---".

Governing body chiefs say they are checking whether the allegations can be pursued given the alleged slur from a youth team teammate predates the authority's 1997 formation.

However, amid concern over witness statements alleging the victim was abused on a daily basis, both the chairman of Kick It Out and Labour MP Navendu Mishra attacked delays over a probe.

The Cricketer website claims to have spoken to the key witness who is willing to to be questioned by the ECB. "I experienced casual racism whilst I was at the Yorkshire Academy," the witness statement reads. "The word 'P---' was often used towards me, alongside other derogatory comments. In addition, black players would be referred to using the racial slur 'Spook'."

However, the governing body has said in response: "We are unable to investigate until we have ascertained if we have any jurisdiction over the matter."

'Future of the sport we love demands action, not denial'

"I am appalled that the ECB is trying to find a bureaucratic hiding place on this matter, when the evidence of repeated, systemic racism is so clear," Mr Mishra, MP for Stockport, told The Cricketer in response. "The future of the sport we love demands action, not denial."

Sanjay Bhandari, the chairman of Kick It Out, added: "It is concerning in any industry that victims of discrimination could be denied justice because of a seemingly basic failure of governance. Kick it Out is considering with cricket how it may provide support and constructive challenge to the sport in its future inclusion journey. Doubtless, preventing a recurrence of this kind of incident will form part of our thinking. In the meantime, we hope that the victims are properly supported by cricket."

The ECB is assessing processes overseen at the time of the alleged offences by the Test and County Cricket Board, the governing body which preceded the current organisation. "We are currently looking into the documents entered into by the TCCB and the ECB. This includes what rights were assigned to the ECB when it was formed. If we can determine that the ECB has jurisdiction as a result of an assignment from the TCCB, we will investigate further. This would include establishing what TCCB rules applied to individuals during that time period."

The row comes to light after Yorkshire chairman Lord Patel said he had received a bagful of “phenomenally racist” letters and that the club’s staff had been physically abused during the toxic fallout following the Azeem Rafiq furore.

The head of the crisis-hit county told BBC Test Match Special on the first day of the Headingley Test that there were still “a very small but very vocal group of individuals that do not accept that racism happened at this club”.

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