Azeem Rafiq hits out at 'unacceptable' failure to be shown Yorkshire's report into his racism allegations
Last summer Rafiq made serious allegations about his time at the club, forcing Yorkshire to appoint lawyers to launch an investigation with an independent panel also put in place to oversee it.
Yorkshire today published a summary of the findings and recommendations made by the panel, rather than the report itself, and county chair Roger Hutton said there was "no question" Rafiq had been the victim of racial harassment during his first of two spells with the club.
Yorkshire said Rafiq had made in excess of 40 allegations, seven of which were upheld in the report. Those that had not been were, in some cases, due to “insufficient evidence”.
The panel considered the question of whether Yorkshire was institutionally racist but could not reach a finding whether or not it was.
A spokesperson for Azeem Rafiq said there are still many outstanding questions about the investigation.
“We note that Yorkshire County Cricket Club has confirmed Azeem was the victim of racism and bullying during his two spells at Headingley," they 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.
“We will provide a fuller statement in the coming days.”
A statement from county chair Roger Hutton said: “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.”
The report had found Rafiq, whose first spell at Yorkshire was between 2008 and 2014, had not been provided with halal food at matches, something which has now 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 said 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.
Also in that time frame, a reference was made to Rafiq’s weight and fitness which amounted to bullying.
The report also accepted that there was a failure by the club in August 2018 to follow up on allegations Rafiq made at that time.
The final allegation to be upheld 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.
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.”
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