Cricket Scotland’s handling of allegations of institutional racism has been described as “tone deaf and arrogant” as the governing body continues to face criticism for its approach to the problem.
The sport was rocked by a report last year that found 448 examples which demonstrated institutional racism, with the entire board stepping down before publication and being replaced with a new chair, Anjan Luthra, and interim chief executive Gordon Arthur, being appointed to oversee a complete reform of the organisation and its practices.
On the day that Arthur announced that he was stepping down for personal reasons, Cricket Scotland has issued an update on the changes it has made from top to bottom of the sport, with the chair claiming that significant progress has been made in the organisation, particularly in the approach to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and citing the creation of a diversity working group as a step forward.
Those claims from the Cricket Scotland chair have been disputed by an anti-racism group that helped investigate specific cases last year, and that had been supportive of the findings of the initial enquiry.
A statement from Running Out Racism said that the sporting body was in danger of repeating mistakes and threatening to undo the good work already done to combat the problems in the sport.
It read: “The release by Cricket Scotland today has set back trust significantly, and demonstrated that the governing body is failing in learning from the mistakes of the past. In order to address the issues in the sport, they must meaningfully engage with people. Not just Running Out Racism, but the wider cricketing community.
“Today’s release flies in the face of that. It is tone deaf and arrogant.
“To say they have significantly upgraded our approach to EDI is unsubstantiated nonsense. Unless that substantial upgrade is referring to ticking boxes as opposed to the previous strategy of ignoring the problem. They continue to ignore the very people who have been ignored for so long.
“To cite the EDI working group as an achievement is frankly embarrassing. At the first meeting in January, formed after five months of faffing around, some members of the group raised significant concerns around the intent of the governing body to meaningfully engage with people who have expertise in this area.
“Following that the governing body put out a positive update which was astounding to some who sat in that same meeting, and has subsequently ignored the group. None of today’s changes have made it to that group for consultation. A group that took five months to form, and has only met once.”
Running Out Racism said that they had repeatedly tried to raise concerns and are “sick of fighting for change in public with no results”. They accused Cricket Scotland of having no real interest in solving deep-rooted problems but simply working to get out of ‘special measures’ and moving on.
“This is not change,” the statement said. “It’s more of the same arrogant bad practice and lack of time spent understanding issues.
Those criticisms were echoed by lawyer Aamer Anwar, who represented whistleblowers Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh when they first raised the issue of racism in Scottish cricket.
Anwar said: “Despite the horrific exposure of institutional racism, Cricket Scotland’s empty soundbites today shows that it remains unfit for purpose.
“Both Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh are sad to see the chief executive Gordon Arthur step down, he was a man who genuinely fought for change to take place.
“My clients both Majid and Qasim believe the Chair has failed to deliver or inspire genuine confidence from across the sport, and they regard the process as little more than an ‘arrogant cosmetic box ticking exercise’.
“It’s time that Sport Scotland stepped with special measures, the only winners today are institutional racism and the dinosaurs who now appear even more entrenched.”
A spokesperson for sportscotland said: “We are considering the various points raised in Cricket Scotland’s latest update. We welcome the progress that has been made to date but we are clear that only by engaging in real and meaningful consultation will cultural change be delivered within the sport.
“The final decision on whether Cricket Scotland exits special measures will be taken by sportscotland and will be dependent on all recommendations from the Changing The Boundaries report being met in full.”
Sheikh, whose decision to step forward as a whistleblower was instrumental in uncovering the problems in the sport, was dismayed by the Cricket Scotland review and called for action from sportscotland.
“I think it comes across as a box-ticking exercise,” he told STV. “I think it’s arrogant and it’s almost implying as if it’s brushing the issues of institutional racism under the carpet.
“For the current chair to put that out is concerning.
“My understanding is that other bodies like sportscotland and Running Out Racism weren’t consulted so it’s a bit of a shock to everyone, with such an important governance review, that the chairman feels that he has the clearance to just put that out without consulting anyone.
“The main point that comes out for me is that it comes across like ‘We’ve got a lot of challenges’ and it seems like ‘It’s a bit too difficult and we can’t do it all’.
“It’s trying to deflect by talking about other successes. Professionalising the women’s game is fantastic but the issues of institutional racism, as was proved last year, are very serious.
“I think sportscotland need to step in. They fund Cricket Scotland with a lot of public money. They commissioned the (original) review by Plan4 Sport.
“We’ve seen what the issues were and I now think it’s time for them to become more involved and take control of the situation so we don’t have these issues arising again.”
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