SEVERAL cricketers who played for English county side Essex were subject to racist abuse and discriminatory treatment, according to an independent report released on Friday (8).
References to players’ ethnic, racial and religious origins were “entirely normalised and tolerated behaviour” within the dressing-room culture between the mid-1990s and around 2013, according to the summary report by barrister Katharine Newton, which does not name players.
The county began an investigation in 2021 after allegations of discrimination were made by former Essex players Jahid Ahmed, Maurice Chambers and Zoheb Sharif.
The findings relating to Essex come after a damning report in June by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket revealed “widespread” discrimination in the English game.
The ICEC was established in 2021 following a racism scandal centred around the treatment of Pakistan-born bowler Azeem Rafiq at Yorkshire.
Newton said in her report conclusions that: “Those at the receiving end of this treatment were too scared to speak up for fear of damaging their prospects of selection and progression.
“In any event, there were no effective mechanisms for raising such concerns.”
She said one of the players was given the nickname “bomber” following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. She also found that the phrase “curry muncher” was “commonly used” in the dressing room to describe individuals of south Asian heritage.
One player “was repeatedly subject to racist treatment” by another player who offered him bananas “in a manner which was unequivocally racist”.
Her report found a lack of understanding of the needs of Muslim players at Essex and that a former chairman used racist language during a board meeting.
The club were last year fined £50,000 and reprimanded after admitting two charges relating to that meeting.
Newton said in the summary report that she had upheld “a number” of complaints of racially discriminatory conduct, and that the perpetrators were named in the full report she had sent to Essex.
“However, these individuals are also being investigated by the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) and the club will need to assess whether publication of the report could prejudice the ECB’s parallel investigation, which remains ongoing,” she wrote.
Essex said they acknowledged Newton’s findings and were “committed to addressing past incidents of discrimination”.
“All victims involved throughout the investigation have received an apology from the club,” they said in a statement.
“Their courageous actions to report incidents of discrimination during their time at Essex has been pivotal in getting to this stage.”
Essex chairman Anu Mohindru said “significant progress” had been made in developing an inclusive culture.
He added: “Following recommendations from the independent committee, the club is now dealing with the process concerning any individuals where sanctions may be imposed.”