Government could use ‘nuclear option’ over cricket’s racism crisis

Azeem Rafiq gave evidence to the DCMS committee on Tuesday (House of Commons screenshot/PA)

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston says cricket must get its house in order over racism, and raised the possibility of independent regulation if it did not.

Huddleston said the issue has been “kicked into the long grass for years”.

Huddleston faced the same MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee who had heard about former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq’s harrowing experiences on Tuesday, and said action had to be taken quickly.

“What we all want is for cricket to get its house in order and get its act together and sort this problem out,” he said.

Huddleston said he had met with the England and Wales Cricket Board’s chief executive Tom Harrison and added: “He knows he needs to act quickly.”


He said the “nuclear option” was an independent regulator and that financial flows of public money into the sport may need to be looked at.

However, he said the Government needed to be “very careful” about that because a lot of Sport England funding into cricket supported schemes promoting diversity.

On an independent regulator, Huddleston said the fan-led review in football had come about because of the sport’s failure to get its act together.

“With cricket, I’d say the clock’s ticking on this, we might well go down that route as well.”

Huddleston said he thought Yorkshire’s treatment of Rafiq demonstrated they were institutionally racist.

“I think it is, to the extent that racist language was normalised and seen as acceptable and that some people didn’t seem to realise or recognise that what they were doing and saying was racist, and I think that’s probably the definition of institutional racism,” he added.


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