• Saturday, July 02, 2022

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Yorkshire apologise after investigation finds Rafiq was victim of ‘inappropriate behaviour’

Former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq. (Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

By: Sattwik Biswal

AFTER an independent report upheld some of Azeem Rafiq’s allegations, Yorkshire have issued ‘profound apologies’ to the former player of the county.

In a statement, Yorkshire said Rafiq was “the victim of inappropriate behaviour”, which they have described as “clearly unacceptable”.

But in response, Rafiq has accused the county of “fudging” his claim of institutional racism.

After the former player had alleged he suffered racist behaviour during his time at the club that also pushed him feeling suicidal – an independent investigation was commissioned by Yorkshire last September.

The panel of experts comprising of experts from the field of HR, sport, governance and employment law – submitted a final finding report to the club last weekend along with recommendations.

Yorkshire stopped short of any admission of Rafiq’s central claim of racism, but conceded on Thursday (19) that “several of the allegations made by Azeem were upheld”.

Yorkshire said in a statement: “There were many allegations made against the club, most of which relate to a period more than 10 years ago.

“Many of the allegations were not upheld and for others there was insufficient evidence for the panel to make a determination.

“It is right, however, to acknowledge from the outset that several of the allegations made by Azeem were upheld and that sadly, historically, Azeem was the victim of inappropriate behaviour.

“This is clearly unacceptable. We would like to express our profound apologies for this.

“The Panel also found that the club failed to implement its policies and procedures in relation to these serious issues.

“The club understands the importance of the Panel’s findings.”

Reacting to Yorkshire’s announcement, Rafiq said on Twitter: “‘Inappropriate behaviour’ are you sure about that @YorkshireCCC?? You carry on playing with your words & fudging this best way possible. ITS NOT GOING AWAY!!”

Rafiq was a former England U19 captain who also captained Yorkshire in a Twenty20 match in 2012.

Roger Hutton, appointed Yorkshire chair last year, issued a personal apology to Rafiq and said: “I would like to acknowledge Azeem’s courage in raising these issues, and his participation in the investigation, which I understand must have been very difficult.

“I would also like to express my sincere apology to him for certain failings by the club, which have been highlighted by the panel.

“He has very obviously experienced some difficult and distressing times during the time since 2008 and the club could, and should, have supported him better.

“Since I joined the board in 2020, it has become obvious to me that both prior to and since, it has continually tried to improve its relationship with diverse communities.

“It has however not progressed far enough, particularly as we learn to see the world from fresh eyes, and I consider that this report will be a platform for further important changes at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.”

Before the release of the final report, Rafiq speaking to Sky Sports on Wednesday (18) said the “last 12 months has been harrowing”.

Ian Watmore, the ECB’s chair, said the governing body was looking forward to receiving a “copy of the report promptly” so it could decide what action is necessary.

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