Essex Cricket club boss 'steps aside' after Zionist lobby tweet exposed

Azeem Akhtar has announced the club will be conducting an independent review into issues raised by the JC


Essex County Cricket Club Chair, Azeem Akhtar has announced he wil step down from his role while the club conducts an independent review after the JC revealed he endorsed comments that the “Zionist lobby” has “oversized” control of the media and a string of other inflammatory social media posts.

In a statement, Akhtar said:“I have taken the decision today to voluntarily step aside as Chair of Essex County Cricket Club while an independent review takes place into recent matters that have been raised.

“I have made the decision to initiate this review because it is important that I as Chair and Essex County Cricket Club more widely hold ourselves to the highest standards of governance and accountability. By stepping aside, I want to show leadership and ensure the Club can focus on the ongoing challenges it is tackling.

“I am resolutely committed to ensuring that Essex County Cricket Club is an inclusive and welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds.”

Yesterday, the JC exclusively revealed that Azeem Akhtar, a former board member of Sport England who was announced as chair of first-class Essex County Cricket Club on Monday, also “liked” on Twitter a defence of comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, and another post that celebrated athletes boycotting the Jewish state.

Mr Akhtar is the club’s first ethnic minority chairman and was appointed 12 months after a racism scandal led to the ousting of his predecessor.

His appointment was intended to “signal the beginning of a new era for the club” following the row.

Anti-racism group Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) attacked the Israel-Nazi comparison and the comments about the “Zionist lobby” as “indefensible”.

“Several of the tweets ‘liked’ by Azeem Akhtar breach the International Definition of Antisemitism,” a CAA spokesperson said.

“Essex County Cricket Club must investigate Mr Akhtar’s social media activity immediately, lest cricket start to become a breeding ground for antisemitism denial.”

Speaking to the JC, Mr Akhtar said he was “vehemently” not antisemitic and had liked the tweets because he was upset about killings in Israel and Palestine.

He claimed that he had never seen groups of Jewish children attending cricket matches and wanted to change the culture of the sport so Jews felt that Essex was “their club”.

“As chairman here I would want the Jewish community to feel they had the most Jewish friendly chairman of Essex County Cricket Club they’ve ever had,” he added.

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