By: Sattwik Biswal
AN unnamed senior cricketer at Yorkshire club has admitted regularly calling Azeem Rafiq ‘P**i’ but was cleared of any wrongdoing on the basis it was “good natured banter between friends”.
Yorkshire County last week said no disciplinary action was needed against any employees after conducting an independent inquiry into Rafiq’s allegations of racism at the club.
According to ESPNcricinfo, the player recalled Rafiq breaking into tears at the remarks, however, they reportedly told the investigation they didn’t realise they were causing offence and would have stopped if Rafiq would have asked.
The player also told the inquiry team that he told other players, “Don’t talk to him (Rafiq) because he is a P**i”, and would ask him “is that your uncle” when they saw any bearded Asian men, also saying “does your dad own those?” in reference to corner shops.
The investigating team were tasked to find evidence and pass on to a panel who would make conclusions and recommendations in their final report. According to them the remarks were “capable of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”.
In the report they said: “The Panel does not accept that Azeem was offended by [the other player’s] comments, either at the time they were made or subsequently.”
The panel has reportedly labelled the remarks as “banter between friends” and that Rafiq could have been “expected to take such comments in the spirit in which they were intended… [so] it was not reasonable for Azeem to have been offended by [the other player] directing equally offensive or derogatory comments back at him in the same spirit of friendly banter.”
Yorkshire have said due to legal reasons they have not published the report fully but the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said last Thursday they had received the copy. ECB have said they will carry out their own investigation into Rafiq’s allegations.
Earlier, the club had issued an apology to the former player and accepted that he was a victim of racial harassment and bullying during his first spell at the county.
Rafiq, a player of Pakistani descent and a former captain of the England under-19 side, last year said that he was made to feel like an outsider at Yorkshire and even contemplated taking his own life.
Yorkshire launched an investigation with an independent panel in September to look into the allegations.
Last week, when Yorkshire announced their findings, Rafiq responded on Twitter: “Sometimes you just want to scream!!!!”
On the decision not to open disciplinary proceedings against any employees, players or executives, a spokesperson for the 30-year-old said: “This is despite Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s admission that Azeem was the victim of racial harassment and bullying. This is despite Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s admission that it failed to follow its own policy and investigate allegations of racism as recently as 2018.
“It is inconceivable that there are no current employees who should not have been disciplined for their conduct. Yorkshire’s failures continue to mount up and it is time that board members — for once — do the decent thing and resign.”