Asian Muslim players demand probe into racism at Scottish Cricket

A leading wicket-taker for Scotland’s national cricket team, Majid Haq, and his former teammate, Qasim Sheikh, have called for a full-scale investigation into the mistreatment and discrimination they encountered during their careers.

Haq, 38, was sent home during the 2015 World Cup. He had alluded at the time that he was dropped from the match against Sri Lanka because of his ethnicity. He had tweeted: “Always tougher when you are in the minority! #colour #race.”

Haq alleged that Cricket Scotland is “institutionally racist”. He has played for Scotland in more than 200 games and was a leading wicket-taker during his career.

Similarly, Sheikh, 37, thinks his cricketing career came to an end prematurely after he spoke about the racism he faced in Scottish Cricket.

Haq said to Sky Sports: “In 2015 I put out a tweet saying it’s tougher in the minority. I was on the next flight home, that shows how tough it can be. I felt isolated and I felt I was right, but I was told by the organisation to delete the tweet and apologise. I never did, why should I apologise for something I believe in.

“Over the last six years, that’s made me believe in things even more. There needs to be some anonymity for those who are brave enough to speak up. I never played again, and that is something I used to love doing. I am still the leading wicket-taker of all time for Scotland.

“Three months later, a white player complained about being left out of a squad and they did a massive U-turn within a day. There were different rules for him and different rules for me.

“A lot of people have asked me if I think Cricket Scotland are institutionally racist – I think they are. An investigation would show that they are. There are a lot of failings in the processes and the opportunities Asian cricketers are getting compared to a white player.”

Both Haq and Sheikh believe the treatment they faced was due to their skin colour and ethnicity. The Scottish Cricket governing body said the allegations of racism will be investigated, however, would not discuss individual cases.

According to Haq, the treatment he faced affects him even today. He said: “I don’t think it will ever go away. I still felt I had a lot to contribute.

“We need more Asian coaches coming in. Not just token Asian coaches, Asian coaches who have also played at the highest level who are not afraid to voice their opinion. We need people who will speak their mind and pick the best players. Coaches around Scotland don’t have the knowledge or experience I have.”

Sheikh also thinks his cricketing career came to an end after he spoke about the racism he faced in Scottish Cricket.

He said: “I was asked if Scottish Cricket was institutionally racist and I’ve educated myself on that. My understanding of institutional racism was getting called the ‘P word’ or getting called other references – I thought it had to be things like that or regular slurs towards you, which never happened on a regular basis.

“However, it’s more like unfair treatment. I was 25 years old and had scored back-to-back centuries for my country. There were no other 25-year-olds who had delivered those kind of results. I was dropped from the team for two bad performances.

“I tried to get back in and it wasn’t happening so I spoke out in the national press. What followed was no one spoke to me for years and I never played for my country again after the age of 25.

“I look at some other people who have spoken out and went on to have decorated careers. I didn’t do anything illegal, I shared my feelings and never played again. That felt unfair.

“Why not conduct an investigation? I’ve had so many messages from people suggesting they’ve faced racism. Let’s have an investigation and let’s find out the truth.”

“I spoke out around 2011, 2012. “This is not something that’s just happened. I voiced it to the organisation, but I never got a warm response or any response. My punishment was my career was over. I dedicated my life to playing for Scotland.

“I don’t think people understand what racism is like if they haven’t experienced it, so it’s hard for them.

A statement from the governing body read: “Cricket Scotland operates a zero-tolerance policy to all forms of racism and discrimination and condemns racism in all its forms…

“We know that there are longstanding issues both in sport and wider society around racism and racial inequalities that still exist and that negatively impact many individuals, and we know that we must play our part in addressing those in our sport.

“As announced, we will be appointing an independent expert to run that crucial piece of work and are committed to acting upon its findings.

“We won’t discuss individual cases at this stage, but we would re-iterate that any allegations of racism or other forms of harassment – whether recent or historic incidents – that come out of that consultation, or that are reported separately to Cricket Scotland, will be thoroughly and properly investigated and dealt with. We would encourage everyone to engage with those processes.”

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