England managing director Ashley Giles calls for 'second chances' in fight against racism in cricket
England managing director Ashley Giles says cricket can lead the way in how sport and society tackle racism; "to do that, we need to educate, we need to share and I also think we need to tolerate," he says
Last Updated: 28/11/21 12:13pm
England managing director Ashley Giles has warned cricket will "have a problem" in its fight against racism unless it gives people "second chances".
Giles revealed there had been much reflection from within England's Ashes squad in the wake of the racism scandal raised by Azeem Rafiq's allegations against Yorkshire and said "discrimination of any form just isn't acceptable".
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He said: "If zero tolerance means there is no acceptance of racism and discrimination, absolutely, that's completely right.
"But for me, if zero tolerance means that we cut people off, we don't give second chances, we don't give people the chance to rehabilitate, then I think we've got a problem.
"This area is such a sensitive area, a difficult one for some people to talk about, but I fear if we take that route then the gap may widen and not lessen."
Giles said many of England's touring party had listened to former Yorkshire bowler Rafiq's testimony when he spoke to MPs about his experiences, and that cricket had a "great opportunity" to lead the way in how sport and society tackle discrimination.
Giles' former England team-mate Michael Vaughan was accused by Rafiq of making racist remarks, which the ex-Yorkshire captain has denied.
Vaughan, now a television and radio pundit, has apologised to Rafiq "for all the hurt" he suffered and will not be a part of the BBC's Ashes coverage.
"It's not an excuse for poor behaviour, but I'm sure all of us have made mistakes at times," Giles said.
"I've been involved in the game over the last 30 years and I'm sure there will be incidents and things I've said that I wouldn't be proud of in a different time and a different context.
"I'm sure cricket is not alone in those experiences, but it's clear we need to keep creating environments where people can keep coming forward and sharing those experiences so we can talk about these issues.
"To do that, we need to educate, we need to share and I also think we need to tolerate."
'In 30 years, I've not had any training on equality, diversity or discrimination'
The ECB published a 12-point, game-wide action plan on Friday to tackle racism and all forms of discrimination in the game, following Rafiq's testimony to MPs earlier this month.
One of the key parts of the plan was a "full review of dressing room culture in all men's and women's professional teams, both domestic and international."
Giles said: "I think it's also a great opportunity for us in cricket to do something. We are in the public eye, very front and centre at the moment, with the issues within the game.
"It's great that we can do something about it - we can lead the way in sport and in society.
"From a personal perspective, I'm very excited to have the chance to be involved in the dressing room culture review, which I know the captains are excited about being involved in as well.
"Hopefully we can lead the way on that front."
Giles said the review would involve evaluating the current state of dressing rooms across all of cricket, deciding what needs to change, and educating young people and leaders, as well as more experienced ones.
However, he admitted he has not received that type of education in the past.
Giles said: "I've been in the game for 30 years and in that time, I have not had one meaningful bit of training on the area of equality, diversity and discrimination.
"That should be a lesson to all of us."
English cricket's leading bodies have promised a full review of dressing room culture as part of a 12-point action plan to address the sport's ongoing racism scandal.
Read the full story here and the 12-point plan below:
Understanding and educating more
1. Adoption within three months of a standardised approach to reporting, investigating, and responding to complaints, allegations, and whistleblowing across the game.
2. Full promotion of the aims of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) through proactive engagement with its investigations and recommendations.
3. Ongoing EDI training for all those who work in cricket, including all staff, volunteers, recreational club officials, umpires, directors, and coaches.
Addressing dressing room culture
4. A full review of dressing room culture in all men's and women's professional teams, both domestic and international.
5. Delivery of a redesigned programme of player and coach education, addressing any gaps identified through the dressing room review.
Removing barriers in talent pathways
6. Action to aid progress into professional teams of people from diverse backgrounds (especially South Asian, Black and less privileged youngsters) through measures to address i) talent identification and scouting, ii) education and diversity of coaches and iii) targeted support programmes for players from diverse or under-privileged backgrounds.
Creating welcoming environments for all
7. A full-scale review, in advance of the 2022 season, into the detection, enforcement, and sanctions against discriminatory and abusive crowd behaviour at each of our professional cricket grounds.
8. Delivery of plans (tailored to local communities) to ensure professional cricket venues are welcoming to all, including provision of accessible seating, food and beverage offering catering to all faiths and cultures, and the availability of facilities such as multi-faith rooms and alcohol-free zones.
9. Upgraded education in recreational cricket to ensure players, volunteers and coaches understand and champion inclusion and diversity in the game.
Publishing localised EDI Action Plans within six months
The ECB will today publish its 2021-2023 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan with clear actions and targets. The ECB will then work with any of its members who do not yet have an EDI plan in place to create (or revise) their own localised version within six months, with actions to include:
10. A commitment to best practice governance with targets for Board diversity (30% female, locally representative ethnicity by April 2022) and plans to increase diversity across the wider organisation.
11. The introduction of fairer recruitment processes through measures including the immediate adoption of anonymised recruitment tools for senior roles, open appointment processes for all roles and the use of balanced and diverse panels to assess interviews.
12. Every senior executive employed across the game will have personal EDI objectives as part of their annual performance targets, driving leadership accountability.