Yorkshire face charge from ECB over handling of Azeem Rafiq case
Azeem Rafiq had alleged “institutional racism” at Yorkshire. (Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Yorkshire could be charged by the ECB for bringing the sport into disrepute over the county club’s handling of the Azeem Rafiq case.
An independent inquiry set up by Yorkshire came out with its report last month where they upheld Rafiq’s seven complaints regarding racism and bullying during his time at the club.
Now Yorkshire risk to face disciplinary charges from the governing body, with the ECB handing over the matter to Cricket Dispute Commission. Reports suggest the Commission will bring formal charges against Yorkshire for their treatment of Rafiq and subsequent handling of his complaints.
It has also been learnt that the club could be hit with more charges as ECB is miffed with Yorkshire’s unclear and delaying tactics.
Yorkshire published an eight-page summary of the 100-page report three weeks ago where they admitted that Rafiq was a victim of racism and bullying, but are yet to hand over the full report to the ECB, despite its chairman Ian Watmore publicly asking for it since August.
The ECB’s lawyers are also challenging Yorkshire’s reasons for refusing to share the report. Moreover there are reports of ECB starting its own investigation but would also trust the findings of the independent report.
The possible sanctions on Yorkshire could be fine, a point deduction and the withholding of ECB funding.
Rafiq, 30, played for Yorkshire between 2008 and 2014 before returning for a two-year spell in 2016, where he was not provided with halal food at matches, something which has now been rectified.
There were three instances of racist language being used prior to 2012, the report found, and that a former coach “regularly used” racist language in 2012.
During Rafiq’s second spell, jokes around religion were made and a reference to the player’s weight and fitness was made, the report said. The club said it should have done more to make Muslims feel more welcome and dealt better with complaints of racist or anti-social behaviour.
“It is a matter of sincere regret that the good work of so many people at the Club – both with Azeem and in our efforts to build an inclusive and welcoming cricket club representing the best of all of Yorkshire – is at risk of being overshadowed by the behaviour and remarks of a few people,” chairman of the club, Roger Hutton had said in a statement.
England Test captain Joe Root had also expressed sympathy for Rafiq and said it “hurts” to see his former teammate.
“I can’t really speculate or comment too much on a report I have not seen. But, as a former teammate and friend, it’s hard to see Azeem hurting as he is,” Root had said.
“More than anything, it just shows that there is a lot of work we have to do in the game… it’s a societal issue in my opinion… as a sport, we have got to keep trying to find ways of making sure this isn’t a conversation that keeps happening.”