Essex latest county to face racism allegations

Essex are the latest county to face allegations of racist behaviour following claims made by two former players.

Both Zoheb Sharif and Maurice Chambers have made allegations in recent days – to the Sunday Mirror and The Cricketer respectively – about abuse they say they suffered during their periods at Essex. Sharif, a left-handed batter, played for the club between 2001 and 2003 while fast-bowler Chambers was at the county from 2005 to 2013.

The allegations follow the resignation of John Faragher as Essex chair on Friday of last week after he allegedly made a racist comment at a 2017 Board meeting. Essex have admitted that the case was “not fully and independently investigated at the time” while the ECB also failed to act after the allegation was reported to them. Faragher denies the allegation.

Sharif claims he was called ‘bomber’ after the September 11th terrorist attacks and was referred to as ‘curry muncher’ during his time at Essex. He also says that a senior player told Sharif, who is Muslim, that praying on the outfield “looks bad”, forcing him to pray in his car. “It feels like my dream of playing for England one day was taken from me because of my skin,” Sharif told the Sunday Mirror.

Fast-bowler Chambers alleges he was regularly called ‘monkey’, including by a player he shared a flat with. Chambers also says that a senior coach used to read racist jokes out in the changing room and a senior player used to offer him bananas in an attempt to get a reaction. “I would go home at the end of the day and cry,” Chambers told The Cricketer. He also says he experienced racism during his time at Northamptonshire.

John Stephenson, the new Essex chief executive, has released three separate statements over the past few days responding individually to the resignation of Faragher and the allegations made by Sharif and Chambers. Essex have launched an investigation into all three cases and have referred the matters to the ECB. The county have also set up a reporting line for anyone who has experienced racism at Essex to come forward.

Stephenson has spoken to Chambers and has made contact with Sharif too and publicly commended the bravery of both players for speaking out. Stephenson was a player at Essex during Sharif’s time at the club and therefore has to decide whether to be involved in the investigation of those allegations. Cricbuzz has asked Essex to confirm whether Stephenson will recuse himself from any involvement in the Sharif case.

The ECB have confirmed they will also be investigating the allegations made against Faragher and by Chambers and Sharif. In response to the latest claims, an ECB spokesperson said: “The ECB is appalled by the behaviour that Maurice Chambers has described, of which no person should ever have to endure. There is absolutely no room for racism in cricket.

“We are sorry that Maurice has only been able to feel comfortable to speak out after his playing career had ended and as a game we must ensure that can not prevail. We will be investigating this alongside the other allegations at Essex and applaud Maurice for his bravery in coming forward.”

Essex are the latest county to face allegations of racist behaviour following claims made by two former players.

Both Zoheb Sharif and Maurice Chambers have made allegations in recent days – to the Sunday Mirror and The Cricketer respectively – about abuse they say they suffered during their periods at Essex. Sharif, a left-handed batter, played for the club between 2001 and 2003 while fast-bowler Chambers was at the county from 2005 to 2013.

The allegations follow the resignation of John Faragher as Essex chair on Friday of last week after he allegedly made a racist comment at a 2017 Board meeting. Essex have admitted that the case was “not fully and independently investigated at the time” while the ECB also failed to act after the allegation was reported to them. Faragher denies the allegation.

Sharif claims he was called ‘bomber’ after the September 11th terrorist attacks and was referred to as ‘curry muncher’ during his time at Essex. He also says that a senior player told Sharif, who is Muslim, that praying on the outfield “looks bad”, forcing him to pray in his car. “It feels like my dream of playing for England one day was taken from me because of my skin,” Sharif told the Sunday Mirror.

Fast-bowler Chambers alleges he was regularly called ‘monkey’, including by a player he shared a flat with. Chambers also says that a senior coach used to read racist jokes out in the changing room and a senior player used to offer him bananas in an attempt to get a reaction. “I would go home at the end of the day and cry,” Chambers told The Cricketer. He also says he experienced racism during his time at Northamptonshire.

John Stephenson, the new Essex chief executive, has released three separate statements over the past few days responding individually to the resignation of Faragher and the allegations made by Sharif and Chambers. Essex have launched an investigation into all three cases and have referred the matters to the ECB. The county have also set up a reporting line for anyone who has experienced racism at Essex to come forward.

Stephenson has spoken to Chambers and has made contact with Sharif too and publicly commended the bravery of both players for speaking out. Stephenson was a player at Essex during Sharif’s time at the club and therefore has to decide whether to be involved in the investigation of those allegations. Cricbuzz has asked Essex to confirm whether Stephenson will recuse himself from any involvement in the Sharif case.

The ECB have confirmed they will also be investigating the allegations made against Faragher and by Chambers and Sharif. In response to the latest claims, an ECB spokesperson said: “The ECB is appalled by the behaviour that Maurice Chambers has described, of which no person should ever have to endure. There is absolutely no room for racism in cricket.

“We are sorry that Maurice has only been able to feel comfortable to speak out after his playing career had ended and as a game we must ensure that can not prevail. We will be investigating this alongside the other allegations at Essex and applaud Maurice for his bravery in coming forward.”

The revelations relating to Essex come after Azeem Rafiq made similar claims about his time at Yorkshire. An independent report concluded that Rafiq was subject to “racial harassment and bullying” while Yorkshire’s handling of the allegations has drawn the ire of the ECB politicians and sponsors. Rafiq will appear before the Departure for Culture, Media and Sport’s select committee on Tuesday (November 16) to talk about his experiences.

Stephenson’s statement on Monday (November 15) in response to Chambers’ allegations read: “The allegations reported today, involving Essex and another Club, make distressing reading. Everything which has been reported will be taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly.

“After learning of the allegations last night, I instantly contacted the former player to offer the Club’s full support. He has shown immense bravery in coming forward and in speaking with us about the incidents he describes. I appreciate how difficult this must be for him.

“The Club will rigorously investigate all allegations while we have also referred this matter to the ECB. As the new Chief Executive of Essex Cricket, I am determined to listen to all allegations and to work to eliminate any behaviour which tarnishes the game I love.

“When I became Chief Executive, six weeks ago, I committed myself to upholding the Club’s multicultural and diverse values. Essex Cricket takes pride in working within ethnic diverse communities across the county and surrounding areas. No one at the Club will stand for any form of discrimination.

“The only way we are going to progress, not only in cricket, but in society in general, is if people who have suffered abuse or discrimination feel comfortable enough to speak out and share their experiences. I want to create an environment in which former players, staff members or anyone associated with the Club who has experienced any form of discrimination can come forward and confide in us, either in person or anonymously.”

Source: https://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/119860/essex-latest-county-to-face-racism-allegations

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