Cricket: Board to keep up pressure on racism

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The Independent Online
THE ENGLAND and Wales Cricket Board have vowed to continue their battle against racism, which they admit exists in the sport in this country.

A think-tank commissioned to investigate the issue of racism in English cricket left the governing body in little doubt that there is a problem to address. The report, entitled Racial Equality in Cricket, has put forward a 15-point plan to make the game more inclusive of racial minorities.

Responding to the findings, the ECB chief executive, Tim Lamb, maintained he and his colleagues were already well aware of many of the problems pinpointed and will carry on doing all they can to rid English cricket of racism. "We must put the research which has been undertaken into context. There are no great revelations here," said Lamb. "We were always aware that some element of racism existed and we have not sat around idly and let it fester. One of the fundamental objectives of the ECB has always been to make the game accessible to all, and it will continue to be a key priority over the coming years."

Among the findings reported to the ECB were that 58 per cent of those consulted in a questionnaire believe racism exists in the game in this country, while only 12 per cent of more than 1,000 respondents believe the problem is ingrained in English cricket.

The ECB welcomed the report and undertook to consult with interested parties at all levels of the game to discuss the implications of putting into place a wide-ranging series of recommendations. "Complacency on racial equality is not acceptable," Lamb warned. "We must open our doors to everyone and ensure that all cricketers and those associated with the game are treated with respect and given every opportunity to participate in or support the game."

Among the recommendations proposed by the study group are an open-door membership policy to be written into clubs' constitutions and a code of conduct to be implemented. Guidelines will be issued covering, among other issues, public address announcements at first indication of racist chanting or behaviour, along with provision to ban offenders; the training of officials and stewards; an anti-racism statement on tickets; and a ban on distribution of racist literature at grounds.

It is also intended to monitor anti-racism policies through agencies at national/regional and county level and introduce regulations to eliminate racist behaviour. In addition, ethnic minority schemes initiated by county boards will be expanded, and the boards and the ECB will jointly promote literature bearing the "Clean Bowl Racism" motto. There will be help and advice from county boards to ethnic minority clubs which might benefit from funding support agencies, while county scouting systems will be expanded to ensure maximum opportunity for ethnic minority players.