TWO former umpires from a BAME background have sued the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for alleged racial discrimination and sought damages.
Prominent black British umpire in English cricket John Holder and former first-class cricketer and reserve umpire Ismail Dawood have demanded compensation and a recommendation on the ECB’s future conduct under s.123 (3) (b) of the 2010 Equality Act, reported The Guardian.
Last month Holder and Dawood called for a QC-led inquiry into the fact the ECB umpires department has not appointed a single non-white umpire to the ECB’s full-time panel in 28 years. The claim states the ECB has also never appointed a non-white pitch liaison officer, cricket liaison officer, match referee or umpires’ coach.
Last week, Holder lodged his claim at the London central office of the employment tribunal against the ECB relates to his employment as a first‑class umpire between 1983 and 2009.
He claimed that he was ‘discriminated against on the grounds of race’.
He umpired in 11 Tests but was dropped from the ECB’s Test match list in 1991, a few weeks after he reported an incident of alleged ball-tampering by an England player in a Test against West Indies at the Oval.
Holder left his employment at the statutory retirement age 11 years ago and is outside the time limit for a claim under employment law. His solicitors have requested a special interest exception because the alleged discrimination is continuing and because there is a public interest in seeing it resolved.
Two years after its formation in 1997 the ECB produced its own report, entitled ‘Racial Equality in Cricket’, which stated 58 per cent of those consulted believed racism existed in English cricket.
The board promised a range of measures, from structural changes to a new anti-racism PR campaign, complete with “anti-racism logo” and the motto “Clean Bowl Racism”.
Dawood and Holder submit that the ECB has “systematically failed to adopt these recommendations”.
Part of the “compelling public interest considerations” detailed for the tribunal’s consideration is the ECB’s use of public money, allegedly while failing to follow its own recommendations on diversity.
The claim suggests the ECB has received more than £60m from Sport England between 2009 and 2017, and that a key requirement of the funding should be that the board increases diversity in cricket, The Guardian report further said.
International umpires have all been appointed by the International Cricket Council since 2002. Holder himself applied for a role as an ECB mentor after he retired in 2009, but did not receive a response.
Dawood submits that from his first application to the ECB for an umpiring role he ‘received a negative response’, while ‘a white ex-player went straight from playing to umpiring’.
Despite being rated as “technically” sound Dawood was passed over for promotion from the reserve umpire list. Dawood’s evidence will also submit that the term “Paki” was used in a meeting and then ignored by the managers at the ECB.
Holder and Dawood state in their claim that they are open to settlement by mediation.
Meanwhile, a ECB spokesperson told The Guardian that it is absolutely committed to ensuring there is no place for discrimination, of any kind, in our sport.
“We have been arranging to meet with John Holder and others to listen to their experiences so as to better inform our future approach to recruiting and developing umpires and match officials.”