A Yorkshire cricketer claims league chiefs in the scandal-hit county have banned him from wearing a jumper saying “no room for racism” during matches.
Haider Rasool, 38, who plays for the Rockingham Colliery club, said his team have even been threatened with a points deductions over the modified garb.
He says he made the jersey last year to spread awareness of racism at the game’s grassroots level.
But this season, the secondary school teacher claims Yorkshire Cricket Southern Premier League officials told him that the jumper had broken new guidelines
And he even alleges they warned his team they could face a 12-point deduction if he kept the clothing on for future matches after he refused to ditch it.
Haider, who says he’s been racially abused during his cricketing career, believes it was ‘outrageous’ to ban the statement while allowing large sponsorship messages on kits.
And though he said league bosses later agreed to “support” his message, he drew parallels between his experiences and revelations of racism at Yorkshire Cricket Club.
He said: “Playing for Yorkshire when I was younger, I saw a lot of racism. I didn’t quite understand a lot of it.
“I didn’t understand why certain players weren’t selected when they were good enough. Having said that, now as you get older, it’s still continuing.
“You can see it’s a hierarchical thing now, it’s institutional. It’s happening everywhere from the county level down to the grassroots level.”
Haider, from Sheffield, South Yorks., created the jersey at the start of the 2021 summer season after feeling inspired by the football Premier League’s anti-racism message.
He said: “I watched the football – and it said ‘no room for racism in football’ – and every time I watched it, it kind of stuck out to, me and I felt we need something similar in cricket.
“So, I got it printed on my jumper.
“I wore it last year through my matches and got a lot of positive feedback from a lot of the opposing team players, management and stuff like that.”
However, when Haider turned up at the start of this season with the jersey, he said his club got a phone call from league bosses telling him he couldn’t wear it.
He said: “I turned up this year for the third game of the season, and the club gets a phone call saying your player is wearing a slogan and slogans are not allowed on players during a cricket match.
“One of the guys at another cricket club is promoting awareness for mental health – ‘it’s okay to talk’ – and they’ve got it printed on their kit.
“We put that back to them – that this is about awareness. This is not directed at any group or any religion, any culture.
“They said, ‘no, it’s different’. They said that’s a charity organisation, this isn’t. That’s the only thing they could come back with.”
“That’s outrageous because people have got massive sponsors right across their chest and on their jumpers and jerseys, but that’s not stopped getting into people’s faces.”
Haider said his team were later summoned to a meeting without him where officials told them they could face point deductions if he still wore the jersey.
He said: “Then we were threatened by a 12-point deduction. They called a meeting with my club members, but not me, which I found disrespectful.”
Later he said league bosses had dropped their threat and said they were happy to “support” him after it was agreed he could wear the jersey just before and after games.
But Haider, whose club has now erected a “no room for racism in cricket” board on their ground, believes discrimination is still being “ignored” at the grassroots level.
He said: “At the grassroots level, it’s happening, but nobody really hears about it because no one wants to deal with it. And it’s ignored and neglected.
“What happened at Yorkshire, I don’t think I’m surprised in any way shape or form, because it happens at the top and filters through to the bottom.
“Now, my club has put a big board saying, “no room for racism in cricket”. I think it’s a movement forward.”
On Wednesday, several former members of Yorkshire County Cricket Club were charged by the cricket’s governing body, the ECB, following an investigation into alleged racism.
While these aren’t criminal charges, it’s understood that several high-profile players, including ex-England internationals, will be put through the body’s disciplinary process.
The ECB handed out the charges after former Yorkshire spinner and whistle-blower Azeem Rafiq brought to light claims of racism at the club during his time as a player.
Yorkshire Cricket Southern Premier League has been approached for comment.