Racism in Scottish cricket ‘devastating’, lawyer Aamer Anwar says

Lawyer Aamer Anwar has described a report by Plan4Sport on institutional racism in Cricket Scotland as “the most devastating verdict to be delivered on any sporting institution in the United Kingdom”. Anwar recently appeared in a public launch of the report.

It followed allegations of racism in the organisation by former Scotland cricketers Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh. Anwar represents the two players in this case.

The investigation team provided 448 examples of actions done by the institution against players from minority groups. Out of 31 indicators of good practice, the organisation failed to fulfil 29 criteria while barely passing the rest.

“It should never be normal for a young person to be made to feel worthless, to be dehumanised in a sport they love, to be brainwashed into thinking it’s their fault,” Anwar said. “But that sadly is the brutal story of hundreds of young people of colour who played cricket in Scotland.”

Anwar participated in some high-profile cases related to minorities, including the murder of Surjit Singh Chhokar. Despite his experience, he said that the report horrified him.

“In 35 years of campaigning this is probably the one case that has horrified me the most,” Anwar said. “The scale of it is a devastating indictment.”

Anwar told reporters that he had informed the International Cricket Council (ICC) about the report. He also asked for an audience with the Scottish Government to discuss this case.

Racism in Scottish cricket

Haq and Sheik have different career lengths in the Scottish team. Nevertheless, they share similar experiences while playing for the national team. Haq and Sheik said they felt excluded. There was also a fear that they would be dropped from the national team at any time to make way for white players.

Sheikh once made centuries in two games in a row. However, when he did not perform well in two games, he would be dropped from the team.

Haq shared his experience of being sent back home during the 2015 World Cup for sending a tweet. At that time, he had already participated in 200 ODIs. This experience caused him to develop suicidal thoughts.

“It would have been nice to have some respect or compassion,” Haq said. “I was made to say sorry and go public saying sorry when I didn’t commit a crime or anything.

“You would think it would be the least they could do but it seems they didn’t wish to.”

Both players insisted that they did not want to receive any compensation for poor treatment during their cricket careers and missed opportunities.

“I just want change,” Sheikh said. “I don’t want to see any young girl or boy suffer like this in the future.”

Many parties have responded to the case, including government officials.

Scottish sports minister Maree Todd said, “Swift and decisive action must be taken, and lessons must be learned, to ensure that racism, of any kind, will not happen within cricket, or any sport in Scotland.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf also encouraged meetings between victims, the Scottish government, and the cricket committee.

“I am deeply personally saddened and angry at today’s findings, we must use it as a catalyst for change,” Yousaf said on Twitter.

Author: Ronald Butler