UK faith leaders and ECB unite behind initiative to eliminate discrimination and promote inclusivity in cricket

Unity statement signed by 13 of the country’s top religious figureheads and the sport’s governing body unveiled at Lord’s first Test against New Zealand

  • Unity statement signed by 13 of the country’s top religious figureheads and the sport’s governing body unveiled at Lord’s first Test against New Zealand
  • Rabbi Nicky Liss, Reverend Chris Kennedy and UK’s leading Buddhist teacher, Emma Slade, amongst signatories
  • Organisers, the Green Park Foundation, aim to generate £1m of social value per year as part of wider initiative to advance equality in sport 

Leading faith, community and sports figures today joined forces to launch a new initiative to drive out discrimination and promote unity in cricket.

The Unity Statement, unveiled at the first Men’s Test between England and New Zealand saw representatives from across the country’s religious spectrum take to the pitch alongside the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to stand united in support of changes to make cricket more inclusive. 

It follows a game-wide response to discrimination within the sport after the powerful testimony of Azeem Rafiq and others over the past year.

The statement sets out the faith leaders’ and ECB’s collective commitment to eliminating discrimination, advancing equity and bringing together people from different nationalities, cultures, and religions.

Launched by the Green Park Foundation, a new charitable organisation focused on social value generation, the Unity Statement forms part of a wider initiative that aims to raise £1m per year in positive societal change through sport.

Prominent faith leaders from across all major religions have provided written contributions including the Rabbi Nicky Liss (on behalf of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis), the captain of the Archbishop of Canterbury Cricket XI (Revd Chris Kennedy), the Chairman of the National Asian Cricket Council (Gulfraz Riaz), the Chairman of the African Caribbean Cricket Association (Lonsdale Skinner), prominent Buddhist teacher (Ani Pema Deki, also known as Emma Slade) and the ECB Chief Executive Officer (Tom Harrison).

It comes at a crucial time for the sport as the organisations across cricket continue to implement a 12-point plan to tackle racism and all forms of discrimination agreed by the ECB in partnership with the MCC, the PCA, NCCA Ltd, the First Class Counties, Women’s Regional Hosts and the Recreational County Cricket network.

A specially commissioned bat called ‘The Light of Unity’ developed by B3 Cricket was presented to the ECB on behalf of all Unity Statement contributors earlier today. 

Mohammed Sadiq Patel, Green Park Foundation Board member and Unity Statement organiser said:

“The beauty of the Unity Statement is its simple focus on how kindness and equality speak to the heart of all belief systems. Its power is it has brought together more UK faith leaders than anything of its kind before. 

“Its impact will accelerate speaking truth to institutions and aligning their influence to make real accountability a blessing which benefits those for whom equality can no longer remain a dream.”

Tom Harrison, ECB Chief Executive Officer, added:

“This Unity Statement demonstrates cricket’s ability to bring people together, and to connect communities. Our sport can be an immense power for good. By working together, we can ensure that cricket really is a game for everyone.” 

Beyond cricket, the Green Park Foundation aims to spread the message of unity and the advancement of equality and opportunity across a number of different sports For more information about the Unity Statement and the Green Park Foundation, please visit: