Azeem Rafiq repeats his claim that Yorkshire are ‘institutionally racist’ as the county is cleared of the charge… but probe finds there was ‘no question’ he was the victim of racial harassment and bullying at Headingley
- Yorkshire accepts Azeem Rafiq was the victim of racial harassment and bullying
- Last summer Rafiq made serious allegations about the club, forcing a probe
- A summary of the findings and recommendations was published on Friday
- Rafiq had made in excess of 40 allegations, seven of which were upheld
- But Rafiq is furious that Yorkshire still hasn’t released the inquiry’s full report
Azeem Rafiq repeated his claim that Yorkshire are ‘institutionally racist’ on Friday after his former club revealed a probe into his accusations of racism had cleared them of such a charge.
In a statement, Yorkshire chair Roger Hutton apologised to the former England Under-19 captain after accepting he had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying during his time at the club.
However, Rafiq reacted furiously to the failure by the club to release the full report of an inquiry that spanned 12 months
Azeem Rafiq repeated his claim that Yorkshire are ‘institutionally racist’ on Friday after his former club were cleared of such a charge
Yorkshire accepted Rafiq had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying at the club
‘We note that Yorkshire County Cricket Club has confirmed Azeem was the victim of racism and bullying during his two spells at Headingley,’ a spokesperson for Rafiq said.
‘However, we must highlight the atrocious way this process continues to be handled. Azeem was not given any notice of this morning’s statement – he received a copy only a couple of minutes before the media.
‘Azeem and his team are not in a position to properly understand the club’s conclusions and how they reached them, because Yorkshire has not provided a copy of the report. This is clearly unacceptable and an abuse of process.
‘What is clear is that Yorkshire County Cricket Club admits racism and bullying has taken place on many occasions, yet won’t accept the obvious – that this is an institutional problem.
‘We also note that Baroness Morgan, the former Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has written to Yorkshire County Cricket Club in recent days demanding that Azeem see a full copy of the report. We further note the letter to Yorkshire from Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, on Wednesday. We welcome their interventions.’
DCMS Committee chair Julian Knight MP says Rafiq and the public deserve to see the report
Seven of Rafiq’s allegations – which are said to have numbered 43 – were upheld by the probe
Last summer, Rafiq, 30, went public with his experiences during two spells at Headingley between 2008-2018, leading to Yorkshire’s appointment of a law firm to carry out an investigation and an independent panel to oversee it.
Greeting the delayed, redacted publication of that report, Yorkshire chair Roger Hutton said in a statement: ‘There is no question that Azeem Rafiq, during his first spell as a player at YCCC, was the victim of racial harassment. He was also subsequently the victim of bullying. On behalf of all at YCCC, I wish to extend my sincere, profound and unreserved apologies to Azeem and to his family.’
Seven of Rafiq’s allegations – which are said to have numbered 43 – were upheld by the probe. Others were not due to insufficient evidence.
The report had found Rafiq had not been provided with halal food at matches prior to his release in 2014. That issue for Muslim players has since been rectified. It found there were three instances of racist language being used prior to 2010 which amounted to harassment on the grounds of race.
The report added that in 2012 a former coach ‘regularly used’ racist language. During his second spell between 2016 and 2018, jokes around religion were made which left individuals feeling uncomfortable, it found.
References to Rafiq’s weight and fitness during this time, which amounted to bullying, were also upheld. The report also accepted that there was a failure by the club in August 2018 to follow up on allegations made by Rafiq.
The report found there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the club was institutionally racist
The seventh was that on a number of occasions prior to 2018 the club could have done more to make Muslims feel more welcome within their stadiums and should have dealt better with complaints of racism and anti-social behaviour within those stadiums.
Crucially though, the report found there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the club was institutionally racist.
It also found that all decisions made concerning Rafiq’s selection and ultimate release from the club were entirely based on cricketing reasons.
Hutton said: ‘There were a great many people at the club who cared deeply for Azeem and who worked extremely hard over a long period to develop and assist him, both personally and professionally, and who celebrated his successes and championed him at the club.
‘And there were others that worked exceptionally hard with him on his cricket, particularly when he struggled for form.’
In all, the inquiry led by law firm Squire Patton Boggs conducted 29 interviews and spoke to 26 witnesses.
However, it did concede that ‘many individuals’ declined to participate, which impacted on the investigation team’s ability to make findings one way or the other.
Yorkshire have been heavily criticised for the length of time the process has taken but Hutton responded: ‘Whilst the process took longer than was hoped, the panel took the view that it was more important to get it right than to do it quickly.’
That, Rafiq says, has not been done, with his spokesperson adding: ‘We will provide a fuller statement in the coming days.’
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