It is a state of affairs made even more intolerable by the tone of chairman Roger Hutton’s resignation statement after his club’s abject failure to respond effectively to the racism suffered by Azeem Rafiq.
No wonder Mr Rafiq accuses YCCC of institutional racism: Parliament is summonsing officials to an inquisition, sponsors are deserting the club and Headingley is losing its international status. But, even now, the historical context is critical.
Players felt unable to speak out when former captain Gary Ballance and others were using racist language towards Mr Rafiq – shameful slurs dismissed as friendly ‘banter’.
Coaches could not – or would not – challenge an immoral dressing room culture, a petri-dish of prejudice allowed to fester through ignorance while players like Mr Rafiq, and no doubt others, were being humiliated.
And no board member had the foresight to respond in the strongest terms possible when the club’s protracted inquiry confirmed that the player had suffered racial harassment and bullying.
That YCCC thought that this behaviour warranted no disciplinary action is indicative of woefully weak leadership and governance at an institutionally racist club in denial about its responsibilities to staff, spectators and society alike.
This weekend many will be perplexed that Mr Hutton – by his own admission – did not reach out to Mr Rafiq, hence why the ex-chairman’s unreserved apology only served to add to the despair.
Given this, it now falls to Mr Hutton’s ex-colleagues and their consciences to respond to his assertion that they showed “a constant unwillingness...to apologise, and to accept that there was racism”.
It will be for the ECB – the sport’s governing body – to account for Mr Hutton’s claim that they “declined to help” Yorkshire over its shambolic inquiry processes when its chief executive Tom Harrison says offers were made. Who is telling the truth here?
And it will ultimately be for the club’s custodians to decide a way forward under Lord Patel of Bradford, the new chair, for a team facing financial ruin over a failure to accept, despite the commendable work of YCCC’s community programme, that all racism – regardless of the context – is totally unacceptable
Hopefully, they will appreciate that YCCC will need to confront its recent ugly past, and learn serious lessons, before it can aspire to become a beacon for multi-culturalism on and off the pitch.
But this unedifying episode extends beyond the culpability of Mr Hutton and any others who must resign in the coming days.
At its heart is a young man – Azeem Rafiq – who became a pariah at the club that he’d been so proud to represent when he progressed into its first XI.
It is about the torment that he – and his family – still suffer after having their characters vilified for speaking out so persistently when YCCC closed ranks.
And it is about the shameful message being sent out to aspiring players – and spectators – from Yorkshire’s ethnic minority communities whose passion for cricket is one of the sport’s most endearing features.
What hope for them when their club – Yorkshire – has been humiliating Azeem Rafiq and all people of colour, because of a failure to recognise its collective, moral and societal duty to confront racism, and to challenge discrimination in all its forms?
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