Claims Michael Vaughan made racist remark at Yorkshire Cricket dismissed

Cricketer Michael Vaughan has been cleared of making a racist comment but a disciplinary panel said it did not undermine Azeem Rafiq's claim the sport is 'institutionally racist' - Sejal Karia reports.

Michael Vaughan has been cleared of making a racist comment while a player at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

The 48-year-old former England captain was charged by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) with making an offensive remark towards Asian teammates Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Ajmal Shahzad before a match in 2009.

Vaughan was alleged to have told them there were "too many of you lot" before a T20 match against Nottinghamshire. He categorically denied the charge.

In its ruling on Friday the independent Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) panel said it was "not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that this form of words was said".

However, claims against five former players and coaches were found proven.

In social media posts, Vaughan wrote: "Now that the ECB's charge against me has been dismissed, I want to thank the panel for their careful attention in very difficult circumstances and to thank all of those who have given me their support during an incredibly difficult period in my life."

Vaughan and five other individuals formerly connected to Yorkshire were charged by the ECB with using racist or discriminatory language.

Vaughan was the only individual charged who appeared in person at the CDC hearing held in public across four days earlier this month.

Five other individuals charged - John Blain, Tim Bresnan, Andrew Gale, Matthew Hoggard and Richard Pyrah - had indicated prior to the hearing that they would not participate, with the charges against them heard in their absence.

'Falling out of love with cricket'

The charges, brought in June last year, stemmed primarily from allegations made by former Yorkshire bowler Azeem Rafiq. Yorkshire accepted in September 2021 that Rafiq had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying, but a month later said no individuals would face disciplinary action as a consequence.

Yorkshire have admitted four charges, including a failure to address systemic use of racist and/or discriminatory language at the club over a prolonged period.

The panel found claims of racist language proven against former players Tim Bresnan Matthew Hoggard and John Blain and former players-turned-coaches Andrew Gale and Richard Pyrah.

A seventh individual, former Yorkshire player Gary Ballance, has also admitted using racist and/or discriminatory language.

Vaughan added: "The dismissal of the specific charge that concerned me takes nothing away from Azeem's own live experiences."

He said the process had "brought me to the brink of falling out of love with cricket".

"I won't address here the toll that it has taken on me and my family, but I have no doubt that it has also been incredibly stressful for all of the others concerned," he added. "I hope that for them and for cricket, an inclusive healing process can now begin."

In a statement, Rafiq said: "Charges against seven of the eight defendants have been upheld by the CDC today. This comes in addition to the other reports, panels and inquiries that found I and others suffered racial harassment and bullying while at Yorkshire.

“The issue has never been about individuals but the game as a whole. Cricket needs to understand the extent of its problems and address them. Hopefully, the structures of the game can now be rebuilt and institutionalised racism ended for good. It’s time to reflect, learn and implement change.”

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, interim chair at Yorkshire, said the club would not comment on the "wider judgments" made by the panel.

"Our focus remains on achieving a reasonable sanction, and we will make representations in due course to the CDC panel," she said.

“In the meantime, the board is working hard to secure the club’s long-term future as we continue on our road to recovery, and we are making great progress in our ambition to become a more inclusive and welcoming club for all.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.