Yorkshire racism crisis: Sajid Javid says 'heads should roll' at club as sponsor Anchor Butter cuts ties over Azeem Rafiq case

Cabinet Minister Sajid Javid has claimed “heads should roll” at Yorkshire CCC over its handling of allegations of institutional racism - as a deepening crisis saw senior club officials called to face questions from MPs and a key sponsor cutting ties.

Azeem Rafiq playing for Yorkshire in 2017.

It follows revelations that a panel commissioned by the club to investigate the issue of racism reportedly dismissed player Azeem Rafiq repeatedly being called ‘P***’ as “friendly banter”.

Chairman Roger Hutton has been called to give evidence to MPs on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee along with other members of senior management to explain the club’s handling of the report, which found Mr Rafiq had been a victim of racial harassment and bullying after upholding seven out of 43 allegations he made.

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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”.

While the report has not been made public, last week Yorkshire said a copy had been provided to the England and Wales Cricket Board, which is conducting its own investigation. The club published a report summary in September which said the panel “was unable to draw definitive wider conclusions on institutional racism at YCCC”.

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’.

Responding to the ESPNcricinfo report on Twitter, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, whose parents are Pakistani immigrants, said ‘P***’ “is not banter”. He added: “Heads should roll at Yorkshire CCC. ”

Mr Javid said if the ECB did not take action, “it’s not fit for purpose”.

This was followed by similar condemnation by Sports Minister Nadine Dorries, who called for a "swift and fully transparent" investigation by the ECB.

She said: “Azeem Rafiq’s treatment after the racism he faced was disgusting, and the investigation that followed only makes it even worse. Racism must be confronted, and NEVER written off as just “banter”."

It came as the DCMS Committee announced it would be holding a hearing into the matter.

Committee Chair Julian Knight said: “We are extremely concerned by recent reports about the lack of action against individuals following the findings. It's clear that Yorkshire County Cricket Club has questions to answer. We have monitored developments around the club's handling of the serious allegations made by Azeem Rafiq.

“We want to see much greater transparency from YCCC - it is time for them to answer their critics. We intend to call the Chair of the club before the DCMS Committee to give a much fuller explanation than we have had so far.”

The date for the hearing is yet to be determined.

Mr Knight subsequently tweeted that he believes none of the board should remain in post.

"Given the endemic racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, I struggle to think of any reason why that the board should remain in post. This is one of the most repellent and disturbing episodes in modern cricket history," he said.

Meanwhile, Anchor Butter - who sponsored Yorkshire’s shirts in the Royal London Cup this summer - announced it was cutting ties with the club.

When asked about its stance on the matter on Twitter by Yorkshire peer and former Sheffield Council leader Paul Scriven, the company said: “There is never a place or an excuse for racism. We have no further activity supporting YCCC.”

Yorkshire CCC said they could not comment in time for publication when contacted by The Yorkshire Post.

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