Yorkshire racism crisis: Boris Johnson calls for ECB to look at Azeem Rafiq allegations with 'utmost scrutiny'

Downing Street has called on the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to look at allegations of racism against Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq “with the utmost scrutiny and act when needed”.

File photo dated 31-03-2020 of A general view outside Headingley Stadium (PA)

Yorkshire County Cricket Club are facing growing pressure to take action following revelations that an independent panel reportedly dismissed Mr Rafiq repeatedly being called a “P***” as “friendly banter”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman has said that Boris Johnson is “absolutely clear that racist language should never be used in any context.

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"These are very serious allegations that must be investigated thoroughly and quickly."

The intervention follows Health Secretary Sajid Javid saying last night that “heads should roll” over the incident. and that if the ECB did not take action, “it’s not fit for purpose”.

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A report previously found Mr Rafiq had been a victim of racial harassment and bullying after upholding seven out of 43 allegations he made.

Despite a “full apology” being issued, Yorkshire said last week it did not believe any club employee, player or executive had acted in a way that “warrants disciplinary action”.

The report has not been made public, but earlier this week, ESPNcricinfo published details from the report, stating a current senior player at the club had admitted to regularly using the term ‘P***’ when talking to Mr Rafiq.

It said the panel had not only deemed the remarks - which the player admitted had reduced Mr Rafiq to tears at one point - as intended to be “good-natured banter” but they also accused Mr Rafiq himself of using racist language himself by referring to a player of Zimbabwean heritage as ‘Zimbo from Zimbabwe’.

However, ‘Zimbo’ is commonly understood to be a demonym - with its general usage similar to non-offensive terms such as ‘Brit’ or ‘Aussie’.

It is now expected that Mr Rafiq will give evidence to MPs later this month about the racism he suffered while playing for the county club.

It is thought that he will give evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee - where Parliamentary privilege will allow him to discuss the full detail of the incidents.

Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton, chief executive Mark Arthur and Martyn Moxon, the club's director of cricket, will also reportedly be called to provide evidence.

No date or witness list has yet been confirmed for the hearing but it is expected to take place this month, potentially on November 16.