Moeen Ali has called on Michael Vaughan to “step up” in English cricket’s fight against racism, as he opens up publicly for the first time on a historic tweet from Vaughan that suggested Moeen should ask young Muslims if they are terrorists to help make society safer.
In a new documentary ‘Is Cricket Racist?’, to be aired on Channel 4 in the UK, Moeen was asked by the presenter Adil Ray what he thought of Vaughan’s tweets from 2017, in which Vaughan first endorsed a Daily Mail column by Piers Morgan arguing Muslims need to root out extremist elements from their communities themselves. At the time, Ray asked Vaughan on Twitter whether he expected Moeen to go around asking Muslims he didn’t know whether they knew terrorists in between matches. Vaughan replied yes, if it helps “our kids future and environment become a safer place”.
“It was very silly,” Moeen tells in the documentary of Vaughan’s tweets. “Dumb really. We need people like him to step up for us. As Muslims, or any other faith really. And just be a bit smarter. I think he has also realised that times are changing and he has to change.”
Vaughan has apologised for the historic tweets, most recently at the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) racism hearings in March. At those hearings, Vaughan was eventually cleared of having made a racist comment to Azeem Rafiq and three other Yorkshire players of South Asian heritage before the start of a T20 game in 2009.
But the Moeen tweet, as well as a few others, formed the central part of the ECB’s case against Vaughan, their lead prosecutor Jane Mulcahy KC arguing that they were “remarkably similar in tone” to the remarks Vaughan was alleged to have made that were at the centre of the hearings. Six other players and support staff, as well as Yorkshire CCC itself,were found guilty in those hearings of having brought the game into disrepute through the use of racist and/or discriminatory language.
Since then, a long-awaited independent report has found deep-rooted discrimination within the game in England, on grounds of race, class and gender. The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) report “Holding Up a Mirror to Cricket”, published last month, was based on evidence from 4000 people within the game. One of its areas of focus was the lack of representation of British South Asians in professional cricket, despite a much larger participation in recreational cricket.
“There’s [British Asian] players out there who are doing better than anyone else,” Moeen says in the documentary. “People won’t sign them for some reason. The South Asian player has to be almost outstanding most of the time, especially as a triallist whereas sometimes a white player doesn’t have to be outstanding, and he is getting signed.”
Moeen said Rafiq’s allegations and the consequences since then were part of a “shake-up” the game needed.
“Obviously sad [for Rafiq’s experiences], but it also felt like the game needed a shake-up,” he said. “The greatest thing that has come out of it for me is that people have a voice now, whereas before people have been very afraid to say anything.”
Is Cricket Racist? will air on Channel 4 at 11.05pm on July 18. It will also be available on the Channel 4 website.
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