Rafiq accuses Yorkshire of protecting abusers by refusing to publish names

By Simon Burnton
Azeem Rafiq
Azeem Rafiq wants Yorkshire to publicise the full report of the racial harassment. Photograph: Caught Light Photography Limited/Alamy Stock Photo

Azeem Rafiq has accused Yorkshire of protecting the people who abused him during his two spells at the club by refusing to publish their names or the report that eventually forced the county to admit that Rafiq had been “the victim of racial harassment” during his time at Headingley.

Yorkshire made their admission on the morning that England’s fifth Test against India was called off last month, with their chairman, Roger Hutton, issuing “sincere, profound and unreserved apologies to Azeem and his family”. At the time Rafiq felt unable to make a considered response, saying he had not been given advance notice that a statement was imminent, or a copy of the club’s report into his case. On Thursday, and with Yorkshire yet to share their full report publicly or with Rafiq, he made public his continued dissatisfaction. The summary report was published last Friday.

“It is extremely rare for any organisation to feel it has no choice but to admit incidents of racist behaviour,” his spokesperson said. “The evidence has to be more than overwhelming. This is an extremely important and unusual admission, as is the concession of bullying later in Azeem’s career … Given this is Yorkshire’s own interpretation, the question we now ask is: how bad is the full report for Yorkshire, as well as the players and coach who investigators found to have used racist language and taken part in bullying?”

Yorkshire, who did not respond to a request for comment, have previously admitted that their report, compiled for the club by a panel convened by them but acting independently, found there had been three separate incidents of racist language being used by former players, that before 2012 a former coach regularly used racist language, and that during his second spell at the club between 2016 and 2018 a former player made references to Rafiq’s weight and fitness that amounted to bullying. In all the panel upheld seven of 43 allegations made by the player, but had insufficient evidence to conclude the club was institutionally racist.

“It is difficult to comment on this conclusion without sight of the report or its reasoning,” Rafiq’s spokesperson said. “Yorkshire’s refusal to provide him with the report means he has little sense of what has been upheld and what has not – or why. This is clearly unsatisfactory. Yorkshire is protecting the players and a coach who they now acknowledge used either racist language or were bullying. The club is intent on not naming them, yet has stated publicly that Azeem is wrong on some allegations without explaining why or on what basis.”

A spokesperson for the England and Wales Cricket Board said on Thursday that they had begun their own regulatory process concerning the case and have asked Yorkshire for further details on the findings, and a copy of their report. It was reported last week that they are likely to bring formal charges for bringing the game into disrepute both for the treatment reported by Rafiq and their handling of his complaints.


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