ECB partners with ‘Kick It Out’ to tackle racism

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The ECB subsequently published a five-point plan — including “12 tangible actions” and pledged £25m over five years to combat the issues of race and discrimination. … reports LDD newsdesk

 The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced a partnership with football’s leading anti-discrimination organisation ‘Kick It Out’, in an attempt to address issues of equality, diversity, and inclusion in cricket.

The partnership comes after a parliamentary committee released a report earlier stating that racism in cricket is “deep-seated” and the sport needs to “clean up its act”.

The report followed Azeem Rafiq’s emotional testimony to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee about the racist abuse he faced during two stints at Yorkshire beginning in 2008 and ending in 2018. Rafiq alleged that the term ‘Kevin’ was once used in the England dressing room to describe non-white people.

The ECB subsequently published a five-point plan — including “12 tangible actions” — and pledged £25m over five years to combat the issues of race and discrimination. The partnership announced on Tuesday with ‘Kick It Out’ is also a part of that action plan.

In a statement announcing the partnership, Kick It Out said: “While some of the challenges remain similar across sports, cricket has its own set of nuanced questions to answer and obstacles to overcome.

“As a result, the initial partnership between ECB and Kick It Out will largely consist of efforts to scope out and research the specific issues at play in the sport. Together with the ECB, Kick It Out will then highlight any areas in which they can offer expertise in developing and implementing plans to build a more inclusive cricketing environment.”

The ECB and Sky Sports are putting forward £100,000 each to support Kick It Out’s project, which will be its first outside football.

“Cricket has been highlighted over the last year as a sport potentially in need of a new direction when it comes to driving inclusion and equality, and we want to use the significant expertise we have developed in this area in football, to see if there is an opportunity for us to support in cricket,” said Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett.

Sky, who is already in a football-focused long-term partnership with Kick It Out and is the ECB’s main broadcasting partner in the UK, is keen to support the project.

“As cricket’s main partner in this country, we will do what we can — on and off-screen — to help the game tackle racism and discrimination,” Sky managing director Jonathan Licht said.

“Sky already has a strong football partnership with Kick It Out and now we will be providing further funding so that the Kick It Out team can explore opportunities to extend their work into cricket, and ensure cricket is an inclusive sport for everyone,” he added.

Meanwhile, the ECB on Tuesday also updated its 12-point action plan to tackle racism and discrimination, including details on a review of “dressing room culture” and a standardised approach to whistleblowing.

The ECB’s review of dressing-room culture will be led by Clare Connor and Ashley Giles, England’s managing directors of women’s and men’s cricket, along with the First Class counties, the Professional Cricketers Association and external experts.

“The review will commence in February and run across the 2022 season (when dressing rooms are active) with the final report due in September,” the ECB said in a statement.

The board also added that an independently operated whistleblowing system with standardised procedures for investigations into complaints will be set up by the end of February and that a new anti-discrimination unit will begin operating in May.

“Work is continuing to define the resources and capabilities required by the ECB’s new anti-discrimination unit,” ECB said.

“The unit will work with the professional game to tackle discrimination while also providing ongoing guidance across cricket. The new unit will be operational by the end of May 2022,” it added.

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