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Sensemaker: Cricket racism

Sensemaker: Cricket racism

What just happened

Long stories short

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  • Amazon said it would stop accepting Visa credit cards in the UK due to high transaction fees.

Cricket racism

It’s hard to think of a worse day for English cricket. Yesterday the former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq spent close to two hours giving evidence to a committee in parliament in London. He painstakingly outlined the “inhuman” treatment he received as a player for Yorkshire cricket club, saying he’d heard similar stories from other teams. He called the sport “institutionally” racist.

Rafiq alleged that
– he was held down and forced to drink red wine when he was 15, even though he is Muslim;
–he was regularly referred to as “P***” and “Raffa the Kaffir” in the dressing room and in public;
–Yorkshire’s director of cricket Martyn Moxon “tore a strip” off him the day after Rafiq returned to work following the stillborn death of his son; and
–Asian players were addressed as “elephant washers”.

He accused the England player Gary Ballance of calling people of colour “Kevin”, adding that it’s thought another player, Alex Hales, named his dog Kevin because it was black. He said the former England captain Michael Vaughan told Asian players “there’s too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” – an allegation denied by Vaughan but substantiated by two teammates.

The background. Last year Yorkshire produced an independent report that found Rafiq, who contemplated suicide, had experienced repeated instances of racism. But the club chose not to discipline anyone, determining that the use of P*** was made “in the spirit of friendly banter”. The CEO of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) told the select committee he left it up to Yorkshire to decide if they were racist because they “were very clear they wanted to run this investigation themselves”.

Baroness Warsi told the BBC this morning the racism experienced by Rafiq was the tip of an iceberg. Part of the reason more cases haven’t come to light is the chilling effect of defamation laws. Azeem Rafiq was covered in this regard by parliamentary privilege, which let him speak without threat of legal reprisal. How many others might come forward now without such protection remains to be seen.

What next? Freedom granted by parliament doesn’t guarantee accountability. Ballance, Vaughan and Moxon are among those still just about employed despite the allegations made against them. The ECB’s chief executive has promised a “hard listening exercise”, whatever that means. Meanwhile, Rafiq, who now runs a fish and chip shop in Barnsley, said: “Do I believe I lost my career to racism? Yes I do.”

To note: 30 per cent of recreational cricketers in England and Wales, but only 4 per cent of professionals, are British Asians.


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Germany’s energy regulator suspended certification for the Kremlin-backed Nord Stream 2, insisting the company transfers its assets and employees to its German subsidiary. Some are worried Russia will use the pipeline – which would pump tens of billions of cubic metres of gas under the Baltic Sea every year – for strategic ends. The project bypasses Ukraine’s lucrative pipelines and potentially strengthens Russia’s position as Europe’s largest gas supplier. Germany’s slow-rolling of Nord Stream 2’s certification is supported by Ukraine but could backfire if Europe’s energy crisis meets a cold winter – in which case the continent is back to the status quo ante of dependence for gas on Russia and Ukraine.


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Thanks for reading, and do share this around.

Xavier Greenwood
@XAMGreenwood

Edited by Giles Whittell and produced by Phoebe Davis.

Photographs UK Parliament TV, Getty Images, Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg, NASA/ESA/STScI