Many disturbing details revealed in report after board of Cricket Scotland resign
Louise Tideswell, Managing Director, Plan4Sport and Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, Sportscotland (Image by Andrew Milligan/PA)
An independent review has recommended that Cricket Scotland is placed in special measures by Sportscotland after 448 examples of institutional racism were revealed.
Cricket Scotland failed in 29 out of 31 indicators of institutional racism following an investigation by consultancy firm Plan4Sport. The governing body only partially passed the other two tests.
The findings of the Changing the Boundaries report have been described as a “wake-up call for Scottish sport”. The review was prompted by allegations from former Scotland players Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh in November and staff spoke to hundreds of people.
From those conversations, 68 individual concerns have been referred for further investigation, including 31 allegations of racism against 15 people, two clubs and one regional association. The allegations include racial abuse, use of inappropriate language, favouritism towards white children from public schools and a lack of a transparent selection process.
An interim report in April revealed that some incidents had been referred to police and it has now emerged that one individual has appeared in court as a result. Most (62%) of the respondents to a survey had experienced, seen or received reports of racism or other forms of discrimination.
The review also found a lack of any diversity or anti-racist training; no consistent process for handling racist incidents, with people who did raise issues “sidelined or ignored,” a lack of diversity from board level to the coaching workforce and within the talent pathway, and a lack of transparency in the selection process.
The managing director of Plan4Sport, Louise Tideswell, declared it was clear that the “governance and leadership practices of Cricket Scotland have been institutionally racist”. She added: “Over the review period we have seen the bravery of so many people coming forward to share their stories which had clearly impacted on their lives. People who have loved cricket and, despite the many knockbacks, continued to try and make progress, umpires who committed so many hours even though promotion never came, and players who saw or heard racism and hostility, but kept coming back to play.
“The reality is that the leadership of the organisation failed to see the problems and, in failing to do so, enabled a culture of racially aggravated micro-aggressions to develop. But I also want to add that whilst the governance and leadership practices of the organisation have been institutionally racist, the same should not be said for cricket in Scotland. There are many outstanding clubs and individuals delivering local programmes which truly engage with diverse communities.”
The report authors made three key recommendations including that Cricket Scotland, whose entire board stepped down on Sunday, is taken under special measures by the national agency for sport until at least October 2023.
An immediate recruitment of board members should ensure there is no more than a 60-40 gender ratio either way and a minimum of 25% of members should come from black, south-east Asian, or other mixed or multiple ethnic groups. Another key recommendation is that one of Scotland’s five regional associations, the Western District Cricket Union, is placed in special measures by Cricket Scotland and is immediately suspended from managing all disciplinary measures relating to its competitions. An urgent review should be held into its governance.
Cricket Scotland has also been encouraged to address the backlog in referrals with any resulting investigations to be undertaken by a third party with suitable expertise. The chief executive of Sportscotland, Stewart Harris, described the findings as “deeply concerning and in some cases shocking”.
He added: “As the national agency for sport, we will work with and support Cricket Scotland to help change the culture of Scottish cricket and that must now be the focus. There has been some progress in recent months but we need to see more steps being taken to address the issues raised and importantly that includes the referrals.
“We will keep all options on the table as we hold Cricket Scotland to account on all of the recommendations contained within this report. Today should also act as a wake-up call for all of Scottish sport. Racism is a societal problem and it is no longer good enough to simply be non-racist, Scottish sport must now be actively anti-racist.”
Cricket Scotland interim chief executive Gordon Arthur, who started in his role earlier this month, issued a “heartfelt apology” to the victims of racism and other discrimination.
“We hope the report provides them with some reassurance that their voices have been heard, and we are sorry this did not happen sooner,” he added. “This report is a watershed moment for cricket in Scotland and taking its recommendations forward is the top priority. It’s clear that significant cultural change must happen and it must happen quickly.
“The immediate priority must be to get the independent referral process agreed and implemented so the investigations into the referrals can start. We are resolute on building and fostering a culture of inclusivity within the sport of cricket where racism and discrimination of any kind is not tolerated, where everyone is welcome and has access to equal opportunities. We must address the past, repair the sport and ensure history does not repeat itself and we will need everyone’s commitment to make this change happen.”