Azeem Rafiq: A timeline of the racism row at Yorkshire County Cricket Club

The row over racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club has escalated this week. Credit: PA Images

MPs have been hearing from cricketer Azeem Rafiq after a report found he was a victim of "racial harassment and bullying" while playing for Yorkshire.

But what were the events leading to this moment and what action has been taken since he first made complaints? Here's a look back at the key events.

  • 2008

Rafiq is named Male Junior Sports Personality of the Year 2007 at the British Asian Sports Awards (BASA). Credit: PA Images

After playing for England's under-15 and under-17 sides, Rafiq is named Male Junior Sports Personality of the Year 2007 at the British Asian Sports Awards (BASA). He then makes his Yorkshire debut against Nottinghamshire in 2008, at the age of just 17.

  • 2010

Day one of the under 19s test match against Sri Lanka in 2010. Credit: PA Images

In another great step in his career, he is chosen to captain England at the U19 World Cup. On his team were several big names including future Test captain Joe Root, and future England senior stars Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.

  • 2012

Rafiq during the 2012 Champions League Twenty20 cricket match between the Highveld Lions and Yorkshire in Johannesburg. Credit: PA Images

Rafiq is then named Yorkshire captain in the Friends Life T20 - the first cricketer of Asian origin to take the role - and led Yorkshire to five wins from his six matches at the helm.

  • 2014

Following injuries, he is released from the club, and speaks of needing a fresh challenge. As he wasn't offered a professional contract with another county, he spends two years in league cricket.

  • 2016

Rafiq celebrates during day four of the Specsavers County Championship Division One match at Lord's. Credit: PA Images

Renewing acquaintances with Yorkshire, he goes on to become a key component of their Twenty20 cricket. He stays with the club until 2018.

  • September 2020

The then 29-year-old bowler makes allegations of institutional racism against the club during both of his spells there - in 2008 and 2018. YCCC asks an independent law firm to investigate.

  • August 2021

YCCC receives the law firm report, but does not release the heavily redacted report for a month.

  • September 2021

The Emerald Headingley in Leeds is the home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Credit: PA Images

After holding a review in to the matter, the club accepts there was "no question" that Rafiq was the victim of racial harassment and bullying. It upholds seven of the 40 allegations made by him, with some not being upheld on grounds of "insufficient evidence".

  • October 2021

Rafiq receives a copy of the redacted report. Yorkshire says its own internal investigation concluded that "there is no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives that warrants disciplinary action". Rafiq hits back describing the move as "embarrassing", and accuses the club of having shown racism the "green light".

Meanwhile, the England and Wales Cricket Board said it would now look into the report as part of its own investigations.

  • November 2021

ESPN reports that an as yet unpublished report from the club referred to the comments made as 'friendly banter'. The club is yet to respond to these claims.

MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee announce they will hold an evidence session on 16 November.

Just days later, the Emerald Group Publishing, primary commercial partners who held naming rights to Headingley Stadium, and Yorkshire Tea join shirt sponsors Anchor Butter in ending their association with the team over the dispute.

The following day, Nike announces it will no longer be the kit sponsor, while Harrogate Spring Water terminates its contract with the club.

Ballance played 23 Tests and 16 one-day internationals between 2013-2017. Credit: PA Images

Former England cricketer Gary Ballance then admits levelling a racial slur at Rafiq, but claims that the pair often made offensive comments to each other in jest. Rafiq responds with the following short statement on Twitter.

On Thursday 4 November, Yorkshire is suspended from hosting international and major matches as the England and Wales Cricket Board delivers a stinging rebuke of the club’s “wholly unacceptable” handling of the racism claims.

The ECB convenes to discuss what has fast become a crisis, admitting in a statement the “abhorrent” matter is “causing serious damage to the reputation of the game”.

In a statement, they said: "There is no place for racism or any form of discrimination in cricket and where it is found, swift action must be taken."

Meanwhile, Leeds Beckett University pauses "all currently planned activity” with Yorkshire, saying the club’s “public statements to date suggest that its approach to the handling of these accusations is inconsistent with our values and culture”.

Following all of this, Chair Roger Hutton and CEO Mark Arthur both resign with immediate effect. Lord Kamlesh Patel is then appointed as the new Chair and Director.