English cricket side Essex have come under fire after admitting that they did not meet their own ‘inclusive values’ after Muslim player Feroze Khushi was sprayed with beer during celebrations after a recent game.
Khushi, 21, was seen in reacting in horror as he was sprayed with alcohol as he and his teammates celebrated their win against Somerset in the Bob Willis Trophy at Lord’s on Sunday.
The images prompted the team to release a statement saying that they did not meet their own standards as team due to the incident, which appeared to be due to a moment of accidental ignorance rather than any pre-conceived anti-Muslim malice.
Nonetheless, it has caused outrage in the wider British-Asian community – something which Sajid Patel, co-founder of the National Cricket League in East London and Essex, said demonstrates the need for increased education for players as to the boundaries of certain religions which must be respected.
“The poor bloke [Khushi] is stuck in the corner of the balcony and couldn’t really move. The only thing he could have done was jump off. The photo of someone pouring alcoholic stuff on him – that was diabolical,” Patel said.
“You have to question the players involved. All player associations in cricket should give their players cultural awareness lessons. It’s brilliant to see Essex win another title, but also frightening to see this is happening.”
The alcohol incident comes after a recent report which stated that there are just 33 players of black, Asian or minority ethnic players represented by the 18 top teams in England and while another team, Yorkshire, are dealing with allegations ‘institutional racism’ levied at them by former player Azeem Rafiq.
“[The celebrations] did not meet the inclusive values of the organisation,” Essex said when pressed on the matter.
“Essex County Cricket Club prides themselves on their work within multi-diverse communities throughout the county and the surrounding areas.
“For a substantial period of time, Essex have had a multi-diverse team with players from different backgrounds, religions, and races, where cricket is at the heart of these communities.
“The club has worked extremely hard and will continue to bring cricket to anybody and everybody, and educate on diversity, but further work needs to be done across both sport and society in general, to widen people’s knowledge and make them more aware of cultural differences.“
This also comes amid a broader debate as to the role of racial equality in global sport which has stemmed from the ongoing ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign. Premier League footballers continue to ‘take a knee’ prior to the start of each fixture so far this season, while the movement has led to a massive voter registration drive in the United States ahead of November’s presidential election.
English international cricketer Moeen Ali, meanwhile, wrote an article in The Guardian in which he feels his beliefs are respected within the cricket community.
“The amazing thing about our team is that guys took time out very early on to talk to us about our religion and our culture,” he wrote. “They have made adjustments for us and we have for them. And we live in harmony.”