Azeem Rafiq: Seven of racial harassment allegations made against Yorkshire Cricket Club upheld

Yorkshire County Cricket Club have accepted there was "no question" Azeem Rafiq was the victim of racial harassment and bullying during his first spell at the county.

Last summer Rafiq made allegations of institutional racism against the club during two spells at the club between 2008 and 2018.

The allegations led the cricket club to launch an independent investigation which was completed in September.

On the completion of the report, Yorkshire apologised to Rafiq for being the victim of 'inappropriate behaviour' but did not go into detail.

The club stopped short of publishing the report at that time and came under pressure from the England Cricket Board and DCMS to release the report.

A summary of the panel's findings and recommendations was finally published on Friday. however, the summary of the report released does not show the full findings of the investigation.

It was found that seven of the 40 allegations made by Rafiq has been upheld, with some not being upheld on grounds of "insufficient evidence".

The seven allegations that have been upheld are:

1. When Azeem Rafiq was playing junior cricket for Yorkshire, he was not provided with halal food at matches.

2. Prior to 2010 the Panel found that there were three separate incidents of racist language being used by former players which were found to be harassment on the grounds of race.

3. Before 2012 a former coach regularly used racist language. 

4. During his second spell at Yorkshire between 2016 and 2018 there were jokes made around religion that made individuals uncomfortable about their religious practices.

5. During his second spell at the Club, a former player made references to Azeem Rafiq’s weight and fitness that amounted to bullying. 

6. In August 2018, when Azeem Rafiq raised concerns of racism there was a failure by the  Club to follow its own policy or investigate these allegations. 

7. Finally, that on a number of occasions prior to 2018 the Club could have done more to make Muslims more welcome within their stadiums and should have dealt better with complaints of racist or anti-social behaviour within those stadiums.

Julian Knight MP, the chair of the DCMS committee said today: "We welcome the decision by Yorkshire County Cricket Club to publish today further details of its investigation into allegations of racism following our call for its report to be made public.

"It is concerning that YCCC was not initially willing to publish its findings and had to be pressed into doing so."

He added that it was "equally concerning" that there was a "lack of genuine contrition in YCCC's statement" stating that the DCMS needed to know what action would be taken against former players implicated in the report of racist language and bullying.

Roger Hutton, Chair of Yorkshire CCC, 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."

A spokesperson for Azeem Rafiq said: "We note that Yorkshire County Cricket Club has confirmed Azeem was the victim of racism and bullying during his two spells at Headingley.

"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."

The report does state that there was not sufficient evidence to suggest the club is "institutionally racist" and that decisions made around Azeem's selection and release from the club were made purely on cricketing grounds.

Hutton said it was "a matter of sincere regret" that the work of so many to make the club inclusive to those from ethnically diverse backgrounds was at risk of being overshadowed by "the behaviour and remarks of a few people".

He added: "I am confident the responsible way that the report has been received by the whole club, together with the clear and collective determination to enthusiastically embrace its recommendations, is an important moment in our journey to become more thoughtful, more inclusive and to make sure that every aspect of the club fully lives up to the spirit of the great game of cricket."

Ian Watmore, ECB chair, said in a statement: "No one should have to experience racism or discrimination in cricket, and it is very concerning that the independent panel has upheld a number of allegations and concluded that historically Azeem Rafiq was the victim of racial harassment and of bullying during his time at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

"It is clear that the game owes him an apology and we are happy to offer that apology to him. There is simply no place for racism in cricket, and what Azeem experienced was unacceptable.

"The ECB has only seen the statement and summary report for the first time today, so we will now examine the contents in detail to decide what further action is required."