Lawyer Aamer Anwar: Racism at Cricket Scotland is ‘the case that appalls me the most’

A report on racism within Cricket Scotland has been described as “the most devastating judgment that has been passed on a sporting institution in the UK”.

The analysis came from Aamer Anwar, the lawyer for former Scotland players Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh, whose allegations prompted the independent report.

Anwar called the results of institutional racism on 29 out of 31 indicators a “total vindication” of his clients, both of whom, after initial skepticism, praised the Plan4Sport review team for its compassion and thoroughness.

The solicitor, whose case history is helping the family of Lanarkshire murder victim Surjit Singh Chhokar achieve long-awaited justice, said: “In 35 years of campaigning, this is probably the one case that has horrified me the most. The magnitude is a damning indictment.

“It should never be normal for a young person to feel worthless, be dehumanized in a sport they love, be brainwashed and think it’s their fault, but sadly that is the brutal story of hundreds of young people of color who played cricket in Scotland.”

Although Haq’s and Sheikh’s careers in Scotland were of different lengths, they both shared similar stories of never feeling part of the team, having their confidence deliberately betrayed and always feeling they were two bad games away from being dropped while white players had time to find their foot.

Haq gave an example of how he was moved from third to ninth in the batting order after failing to hit 120. Sheikh hit consecutive centuries but was dropped after two underperforming performances.

Both never played for their country again after publicly voicing their opinion that race was a factor in the selection. Both have not heard from their former teammates lately.

Majid Haq during a press conference in (Andrew Milligan/PA)

(PA wire)

Haq, Scotland’s record wicket-taker and holder of more than 200 caps, had suicidal thoughts after being sent home from the 2015 World Cup for tweeting and felt Cricket Scotland had personally apologized to him must.

The 39-year-old, who brought 10 separate discrimination allegations to the review team, said: “It would have been nice to have had some respect or compassion. I had to apologize and apologize publicly even though I hadn’t committed a crime or anything. You’d think it was the least they could do, but apparently they didn’t want to.”

He added of the report: “It confirmed what I feel. Many people have told me that there is no problem. It’s true because it’s not just about me and Qasim. Several hundred people took part in this report. We can start holding our heads up.

“We were branded liars – Qasim for over a decade, I for seven and a half years. It was a relief for me and I really hope that future and current generations get the same opportunities and support and support.

“Every time you challenged something, you were branded a troublemaker.”

Qasim Sheikh reacts (Andrew Milligan/PA)

(PA wire)

Both players insisted they didn’t want any financial compensation for their treatment and missed opportunities.

Sheikh, who stopped playing for Scotland after the age of 25 despite apologizing for speaking publicly about his lack of opportunities, said: “We’re not looking for a dime. i just want change I don’t want to see any young girl or boy suffer like this in the future.”

Neither player wanted to join Cricket Scotland’s redesigned board at the time, but both offered to offer advice.

“I want to stay outside,” Sheikh said. “I would love to advise and help move the sport forward, but I don’t think it would be appropriate to sit on the board at this stage. You never say never, maybe sometime in the future.”

Anwar revealed he had approached the International Cricket Council about the report and asked for a meeting with the Scottish Government.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf promised it would happen along with meetings with other victims, as well as Cricket Scotland and Sportscotland after the “damning review”.

Yousaf added on Twitter: “I am personally deeply saddened and angry at today’s results, we must use them as a catalyst for change.”

His colleague, Sport Minister Maree Todd, said: “There must be swift and decisive action and lessons learned to ensure that there is no racism of any kind in cricket or any other sport in Scotland.”

Both Haq and Sheikh have been in close contact with Azeem Rafiq, whose revelations about racism in Yorkshire prompted them to speak out.

Rafiq told Sky Sports: “There are a lot of people who are still trying to find the courage to speak out and we need to show them that there is a safe place for them if they do it.

“It’s difficult to speak out, there are many challenges that come with it, you don’t suffer alone, your family suffers, your everyday life suffers.

“(It’s not) until we change that and make sure whistleblowers are supported in the right way when they come forward, we’re really going to get to a point where more people feel empowered to come forward.” Lawyer Aamer Anwar: Racism at Cricket Scotland is ‘the case that appalls me the most’

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