Cricket must now hit antisemitism for six

The JC Leader, 2 December 2022

December 01, 2022 11:58

Just over a year ago, former Yorkshire spin bowler Azeem Rafiq shocked the cricketing world — and beyond — with devastating and detailed revelations of the racism he had suffered at the club. It then emerged that Mr Rafiq (along with his colleague Andrew Gale) had himself made a series of antisemitic comments. He has since apologised and Yorkshire County Cricket Club has undergone a change of management.

It would be comforting to think that with this, cricket’s problem with racism has somehow been dealt with. But as we reveal today, the new chair of Essex CCC — ironically appointed to succeed a man forced to resign after allegedly racist comments — has liked a series of social media posts which compare Israel with Nazi Germany, talk of Zionist control of the media and posit other classic antisemitic themes. In truth, cricket, which likes to think of itself as a gentleman’s game, has harboured racism and has consistently failed to acknowledge it, let alone tackle it.

The contrast with our other national sport could hardly be greater. Football has long had a terrible racism problem, both within clubs and on the terraces. But while cricket has pretended nothing is wrong, football has acknowledged the issue and taken serious steps to act — not least through organisations such as Kick It Out. And clubs such as Chelsea, whose fans notoriously hiss when playing Spurs to mimic the sounds of the gas chambers, have led the way in seeking to deal with it.

Antisemitism is on the rise across society, as CST’s research shows. It is hardly surprising it is present in sport, too. But given sport’s exalted place in the national psyche, it is all the more vital there is zero tolerance for racism within sport.

December 01, 2022 11:58

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