The Gloucester AIW Cricket Club have alleged discrimination after they were docked points for missing a match during the Muslim festival of Eid.
The club, several of whose players are Muslim, reportedly refused to play on Saturday, August 10, as the match clashed with celebrations of the ‘Day of Arafat’, the day before Eid al-Adha. As a result, they were docked 22 points, and Redmarley Cricket Club, their opponents on the day, were awarded 20.
Gloucester AIW have called the decision a “travesty”, and said it was “akin to asking other clubs to play on Christmas Day”. They demanded more than “lip service” from the England and Wales Cricket Board to ensure that the South Asian community felt a part of the sport.
“The day of Arafat is one of the most important days in Islam which comes a day before Eid al-Adha,” club secretary Ahmed Goga told the BBC. “They discriminated against our religious obligations.”
— Gloucester AIW CC (@GAIWCC) August 13, 2019
Interestingly, the constitution of the Gloucestershire County Cricket League has provisions to deal with such a situation. A clause was reportedly introduced ahead of this season, requiring matches to be rearranged if they coincide with Eid. “Working with the Fixture Secretary and opposition teams, the match must be rescheduled before the start of the season or on a Sunday or Bank Holiday. This must be done before January 31st,” the league handbook says. However, there is no mention of what happens on the Day of Arafat.
Given this stipulation, the league insisted that they had acted “within its rules”.
However, the club alleged that their request made in January had been ignored, and the league “refused to engage in any discussions”. A statement explained: “The GCCL and our opponents were notified seven months ago of a potential clash with the Eid Festival, immediately once the fixtures were first made available in January.
“The GCCL has a specific clause in its constitution (introduced this season) requiring matches to be rearranged, where there is a risk of games coinciding with Eid. Gloucester AIW offered our opponents a variety of alternative dates … They failed to co-operate and refused to countenance any of the options offered.”
James Holland, chairman of Redmarley CC said it had been impossible for them to accommodate a rescheduled date. “We were or are unable to accommodate league cricket outside of Saturdays. We were just effectively unable to provide a competitive team on a date on a Saturday before the scheduled day,” he said.