Cricket-ECB unveils action plan to tackle racism following Rafiq allegations

FILE PHOTO: Britain Cricket - NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day - Edgbaston - 20/8/16 Yorkshire's Azeem Rafiq celebrates the wicket of Durham's Ben Stokes Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs

(Reuters) - The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday released a 12-point action plan to tackle racism and discrimination in the sport, including a review of the "dressing room culture" across teams and a standardised approach to whistleblowing.

The move comes after a number of players, including former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq, alleged they were the victims of institutional racism at their clubs.

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan promises a redesigned blueprint for player and coach education, as well as a mentoring programme for cricketers from diverse or underprivileged backgrounds.

Teams will also be required to diversify their leadership boards by April 2022, with a commitment to have 30% female and representative ethnicity.

"We have now set out a series of game-wide commitments so that cricket can start to make the transformation that we know is needed," ECB interim chair Barry O'Brien said.

"Change is required as a matter of urgency, but we also recognise that sustained action is required over months and years to achieve fundamental and long lasting progress. This must begin today."

The ECB said it would set up a new anti-discrimination unit within sixth months and also vowed to remove "structural and cultural barriers" in their elite talent pathways.

"For cricket truly to 'connect communities and improve lives' -- our stated aim at the ECB -- we must start by accepting that not enough has happened to make our game better" ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said.

"That is the only possible reaction to the powerful testimony of Azeem Rafiq and others in recent weeks."

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shrivathsa Sridhar)

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