Azeem Rafiq sees Yorkshire racism scandal ‘closed’ as ECB files charges

Azeem Rafiq said he was one step closer to “closure” after disreputable charges were brought against Yorkshire and “several people” over allegations of racism at the club and the handling of those allegations.

Rafiq said the process that led to the Cricket Board for England and Wales announcing the issuance of charges on Wednesday had been “exhausting” for him personally, two years after his initial allegations of racism and harassment over two seasons in Yorkshire.

He called for the hearings to be held in public, but given the ECB’s decision not to name the defendants, that seems highly unlikely.

“This has been another exhausting but sadly necessary process,” the 31-year-old said in a statement.

“It has been two long years since I went public with my experiences, but I hope that all of this means that no young player ever goes through so much pain and alienation again.

“I would prefer this hearing to take place publicly, but I am hopeful that we are at least getting closer to a point where there will be a sense of closure for me and my family.”

The ECB decided not to name the people charged, but The Cricketer reported the names of seven people it said would now attend hearings with an independent panel from the Cricket Disciplinary Commission.

Those people have been contacted by the PA news agency for comment.

The ECB said the CDC panel’s hearing to review the cases was expected to take place in September or October, with the full written decisions and reasons to be published after the hearing.

Yorkshire said they had been notified of the charges and evidence collected during the investigation, and were reviewing it and would cooperate with the process.

However, they noted that there were allegations dating back to 2004 and that they “would need the cooperation of those in office during this time to fully consider and respond to the issues raised.”

The ECB opened its investigation in November last year after widespread criticism of Yorkshire’s handling of Rafiq’s allegations.

He said Wednesday that the investigation had been “thorough and complex” and thanked witnesses and others who had come forward.

Rafiq first alleged racism and bullying in September 2020, in connection with his two terms with the county from 2008-14 and 2016-18.

Yorkshire launched an investigation into the allegations, but it took until September 2021 for even a summary of that investigation’s findings to be published.

The county accepted that Rafiq had been a victim of bullying and racial harassment, but confirmed only seven of the 43 allegations. The following month, Yorkshire said that no one would face disciplinary action stemming from the investigation.

Political pressure mounted further on Yorkshire and the ECB when it was reported in November last year that a Yorkshire player had admitted to investigators that he had repeatedly used a racial slur towards Rafiq, but the investigation concluded this was part of a ” joke”. between the couple.

The ECB stripped Yorkshire of the right to host lucrative international matches at Headingley until governance changes were enacted. The new chairman, Lord Kamlesh Patel, who took over from Roger Hutton last November, oversaw the approval of those changes at an extraordinary general meeting of club members in March this year.

Rafiq provided harrowing evidence about his cricket experiences at a hearing on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport last November, with committee chairman Julian Knight telling the PA news agency: “I am pleased by the fact that the ECB is proceeding with this and I await the result

“Cricket must understand and learn that what happened in Yorkshire at the time, and appears to have potentially happened in other parts of the game, cannot happen again.

“There must be a comprehensive commitment to ensuring that those from all communities who love the game of cricket feel equally valued, and that must be front and center in everything the ECB and the game in general do in this country. ”.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “The Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s treatment of Azeem Rafiq was disgraceful and we commend his courage in speaking out. There is no place for racism in sport or in society and we welcome the response from the Cricket Board for England and Wales.

Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance has apologized for using a racial slur towards Rafiq (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“We will continue to work with Sport England and UK Sport to hold the national governing bodies of sport to account to ensure clear and meaningful cultural change continues and racism is eliminated for good.”

In his statement to the committee, Rafiq made new claims of racial discrimination in respect of former England internationals Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan, Alex Hales and Gary Ballance.

Ballance, who is still in Yorkshire but has yet to play this season, has apologized for using a racial slur towards Rafiq, but Rafiq said in March that he had not received an apology directly from Ballance.

Hoggard apologized to Rafiq, while Bresnan apologized for bullying Rafiq but categorically denied making any racist comments.

Nottinghamshire batsman Hales categorically denied after the DCMS hearing last November that there was any racial connotation to him in naming his dog ‘Kevin’, a word Rafiq alleged Ballance used as a derogatory term towards people from ethnic minorities.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has categorically denied making a racist comment to a group of Asian players in Yorkshire in 2009.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has categorically denied making a racist comment to a group of Asian players in Yorkshire in 2009 (Aaron Chown/PA)

Rafiq also alleged that former England captain and Yorkshire team-mate Michael Vaughan told him and a group of Asian players in 2009 that there were “too many of you” in Yorkshire and “we need to do something about it.” “.

Vaughan has categorically denied making that comment. However, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan corroborated Rafiq’s claim, as did current England player Adil Rashid.

A fourth player, Ajmal Shahzad, said he did not recall the comment Vaughan allegedly made.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.