Racism not taken seriously enough by sporting bodies, says Javid

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Azeem Rafiq giving evidence at the inquiry into racism he suffered at Yorkshire County Cricket Club (House of Commons/PA) (PA Media)
Azeem Rafiq giving evidence at the inquiry into racism he suffered at Yorkshire County Cricket Club (House of Commons/PA) (PA Media)

UK sporting bodies have not taken accusations of racism seriously, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said.

He said that racial slurs used at Yorkshire County Cricket Club were not “banter” as had been suggested, and called for the organisation to change.

His comments come after whistleblower and former cricketer Azeem Rafiq claimed he faced slurs and institutional racism at his former club.

Speaking on Trevor Phillips on Sunday on Sky News Mr Javid said that sporting authorities like the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had not gone far enough to tackle racism.

When asked whether the Government needed to stop trusting sporting bodies, he replied: “I think it’s a very good question, because I think the sporting authorities, whether it’s football, cricket, they talk the talk, but what have they actually done that’s really helping?

“I remember when I was the culture secretary and overseeing sport in this country, I remember meeting the ECB then about issues of racial discrimination in cricket, and they were telling me what they were going to do, and look where we are now, many years later, look at what’s happening, look at what’s been uncovered.

“I don’t think the ECB has taken this issue very seriously.

“I think they need to take a long, hard look at themselves. And now this is a real test for them and let’s see if they can pass it.”

Mr Javid also said the racial slurs used at Yorkshire Cricket Club have never been just “banter”.

He added: “I was called P*** almost every day at school, I didn’t like it then, I don’t like it now.

“I think the good news is our country has come a long, long way since then, but clearly not every institution in the country has taken that journey and it’s clear to everyone now that Yorkshire County Cricket Club is one of those institutions that have been stuck in the dark ages and needs to change.”

In December last year, 30-year-old former Yorkshire county cricket player Rafiq revealed non-white players at the club were called “P****” and “elephant washers”, while the drinking culture at the club was highlighted with regard to insensitivity around Muslim attitudes to alcohol.

A legal battle followed, and Yorkshire Cricket Club accepted Rafiq had been the victim of “racial harassment and bullying” after an investigation, however a full report into what happened is yet to be released publicly.

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