The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) has called for immediate action to address what it has called a ‘deep-rooted sexist, racist, and elitist’ side of English cricket in its latest eyebrow-raising report.

Questioning some 4,000 players, coaches, support staff and fans, the report confirms that the problems it highlights have definitely not appeared recently, and that they spread across all levels of cricket in England. 

Comments were provided by the ICEC Chair, Hindy Butts, who was quoted as saying: “Our findings are unequivocal. Discrimination is both overt and baked into the structures and processes within cricket. The stark reality is cricket is not a game for everyone.

“Racism, class-based discrimination, elitism and sexism are widespread and deep rooted. The game must face up to the fact that it’s not banter or just a few bad apples.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has also published a statement reported on by the Guardian, where it admits failures to address the raised issues effectively, vowing to take action on 44 ICEC recommendations in the next three months in what it called “a seminal moment” for cricket.

Shocking evidence uncovered by the ICEC reveals that 87%  of all survey respondents with Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, as well as 82% of all people with Indian heritage and 75% of all respondents with African descent, have experienced discrimination at some point during their involvement with their favourite sport. 

Misogyny also appears to be prevalent, with women in English cricket “frequently demeaned, stereotyped and treated as second-class” in what ICEC describes to be a round-the-clock marginalisation. 

Other instances of discrimination appear within children groups as well, with cricket seen more as a “private school” exclusive activity rather than a widely accessible sport. Some of the reported accidents include children from public schools being called “peasants” and being made fun of for their accents.  

“At the playing level, private school educated players are disproportionately represented, to a significant extent, in England’s national teams, both men and women, compared with the general population,” the report added. “Diversity of ethnic background has also decreased in the men’s professional game over the last 30 years, and has never been high in the women’s game.”

An apology was also given by ECB Chair Richard Thompson, who said: “Cricket should be a game for everyone, and we know that this has not always been the case.

“Powerful conclusions within the report also highlight that for too long women and black people were neglected. We are truly sorry for this. I am determined that this wake-up call for cricket in England and Wales should not be wasted.”

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