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ECB accused of institutional racism as lack of non-white officials sparks controversy

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The ECB have yet again been accused of institutional racism


ECB accused of institutional racism as lack of non-white officials sparks controversy

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SportsCafe Desk


Former Test umpire John Holder and former England U19 cricketer Ismail Dawood have accused the ECB of being ‘institutionally racist’ for the lack of non-white officials at the highest level. Both Holder and Dawood shared their experiences which led them to believe ECB was institutionally racist.

Months after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) admitted that the board, historically, have not done enough to ensure fair representation of all ethnicities, they have once again been accused of institutional racism. While months ago, several black people and people from other minorities who were once part of the system pointed out the startling lack of representation of ethnic minorities in positions of power,  the ECB have now been accused of institutional racism by former Test umpire John Holder and former England U19 cricketer Ismail Dawood.

The accusation comes on the back of a lack of BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) match officials in cricket in the country, with only two BAME umpires appointed to the first-class panel in the past 28 years. John Holder, who officiated 11 Tests and 19 ODIs between 1998 and 2001, is the last BAME official in England to even have officiated at the first-class level, with there having been no BAME representation since his retirement in 2009. 

Through ‘Stump Out Racism’, a grassroots organisations established to counter racism in cricket, the 75-year-old released a statement where he claimed that there existed, within ECB, a favouritism for whites.

"It is now 11 years since my retirement and 10 for Vanburn (Holder) and no other non-white umpires have been added to the Panel, yet many have graced the game. My suspicion is that there has been a definite policy of only employing whites for this position. There needs to be a transparent policy related to selecting, training and mentoring umpires, which presently does not exist,” read Holder’s statement, reported Cricbuzz.

Holder also claimed that he had once inquired to the ECB about potentially becoming a mentor for young umpires after which the board, without responding him, went ahead and appointed ‘ex players with minimal knowledge of umpiring’ as mentors.

"Instead ex-players, with minimal, if any, knowledge of umpiring [became] mentors. This was ludicrous. Would he have employed someone who could not drive to teach him someone to drive? Umpiring is as different from playing as chalk is from cheese."

Dawood, a 44-year-old veteran of 39 first-class matches, meanwhile, claimed that he has been witness to ECB officials uttering racial slurs, and further went on to claim that the glass ceiling for BAME officials is ‘incredibly low’ in the ECB, which he considers an inherently racist institution.

"The language I have heard over the years has been horrendous, words such as P**is, C***s, N****s featured from individuals attached to the ECB. Some of this language was used in front of senior ECB managers, which I found extremely disturbing. Having worked in different progressive sectors to cricket, I feel the ECB is the last colonial outpost, it is archaic, and any change is mere marketing rhetoric.

"The glass ceiling is incredibly low for BAME individuals, with systematic racism at the heart. I feel I have encountered racial discrimination, dishonesty and mis-information, cronyism, bullying, all which is deep rooted in the organisation. It was an isolating place for a person from a BAME background. Even to the extent that I was denied progress.

"It would be interesting to see what the sponsors make of the institutional racism because they need to take action also to stump out racism. We need change and the ECB needs to take action to bring genuine equality and build a better future."

In response, an ECB spokesperson accepted the claims and admitted that there is a serious need to reform the existing approach. The spokesperson revealed that a review has been commissioned to look into the allegations.

"Today's group of professional umpires don't reflect the diverse ECB we are determined to be. We want to see more BAME representation among our officials and recognise we still have a long way to go as a game to achieve this.

"Earlier this year we commissioned a full independent employment investigation into allegations made against an individual, and while these were not upheld, the investigation did identify areas where we need to be better and do more to be inclusive and diverse.

"The ECB has now commissioned a review, with Board oversight, to look at how we can reform our approach to managing Match Officials. This will set out actions as to how we can improve our systems and processes to increase the diversity of umpiring, inspire the next generation of umpires and match referees, have a world class umpiring programme and ensure a culture of inclusivity and fairness throughout the umpiring system."

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