A wide-ranging response promised by bosses – timeline of cricket racism crisis

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The fallout from Yorkshire whistleblower Azeem Rafiq’s explosive and emotional appearance in front of MPs continues.

Rafiq aired his full and harrowing allegations in the public arena at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing on Tuesday.

Here, the PA news agency provides a timeline of developments in the cricket racism crisis so far.

September 2, 2020 – In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, former England Under-19 captain Rafiq reveals: “I know how close I was to committing suicide during my time at Yorkshire” over what he describes as “institutional racism” at the county.

A sign outside Yorkshire's ground
A sign outside Yorkshire’s ground (Peter Powell/PA)

September 3, 2020 – Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton confirms a formal investigation into Rafiq’s claims will “start in a matter of days” and be conducted “thoroughly, impartially and with urgency”, while Hanif Malik, the chair of the club’s Equality and Diversity Committee, is in contact with Rafiq.

September 5, 2020 – Independent law firm Squire Patton Boggs is hired by Yorkshire to lead an investigation and review into the racism experienced by Rafiq.

November 13, 2020 – Rafiq reveals details of the racism he faced at Yorkshire in a release issued through his legal firm Chadwick Lawrence LLP. He reveals non-white players were called “P***s” and “elephant washers”, while the drinking culture at the club is highlighted with regard to insensitivity around Muslim attitudes to alcohol.

December 14, 2020 – Chadwick Lawrence LLP confirms Rafiq has filed a legal claim against Yorkshire under the Equality Act, claiming direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race, as well as victimisation and detriment as a result of his efforts to address racism at the club.

Middlesex v Yorkshire – Specsavers County Championship – Division One – Day Four – Lord’s
In November 2020, Azeem Rafiq revealed details of the racist abuse he had received during his time at Yorkshire (John Walton/PA)

June 17, 2021 – Yorkshire confirm they have failed to “resolve the issues between the club and Azeem Rafiq” through the process of judicial mediation, with the case still within the employment tribunal process and set to be listed for a private case management conference.

August 18, 2021 – England and Wales Cricket Board chair Ian Watmore calls on Yorkshire to provide a copy of the investigation’s findings after he confirms the independent enquiry had sent its conclusions to the county, with Rafiq revealing his exasperation with the continued delays to the process.

August 19, 2021 – Rafiq accuses Yorkshire of “fudging” his claims of institutional racism after the county apologise to the former spinner for being the “victim of inappropriate behaviour” but insist “many of the allegations were not upheld” in a lengthy statement following the conclusion of the enquiry.

September 8, 2021 – Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chair Julian Knight MP tells Yorkshire to publish the report into Rafiq’s claims of racism, stating: “It is crucial that the process, the report and its full findings are made public and open to scrutiny.”

DCMS Committee chair Julian Knight MP
DCMS Committee chair Julian Knight MP commented on the Azeem Rafiq case in September (House of Commons)

September 10, 2021 – Yorkshire release a summarised version of their independent report, where they apologise and accept Rafiq had been the victim of “racial harassment and bullying” in his two spells at the club between 2008 and 2018, but after only seven of Rafiq’s 43 allegations were upheld the county insist there is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove institutionalised racism.

October 7, 2021 – A spokesperson for Rafiq accuses Yorkshire of “protecting the players and a coach who they now acknowledge used either racist language or were bullying” with the full report still not published.

October 28, 2021 – Yorkshire announce no individuals will face disciplinary action despite seven of Rafiq’s allegations being upheld.

November 2, 2021 – ESPNcricinfo reveals details of the report into Rafiq’s claims, which includes the admission of one senior player that he used the word “P***” in reference to Rafiq, but Yorkshire conclude the incidents in question amounted to “friendly banter”. Health secretary Sajid Javid says “heads should roll” at Yorkshire, while chairman Hutton is called to face the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

November 3, 2021 – Emerald Group Publishing, Yorkshire Tea and Anchor Butter all end their association with Yorkshire over the handling of Rafiq’s allegations. Meanwhile, former England batter Gary Ballance reveals he used “a racial slur” against Rafiq but claimed both men “said things privately to each other which were not acceptable”. Rafiq appeared to question the timing after he tweeted, “Funny how things change from complete denial to I accepted everything over a 14-month period?”

November 4, 2021 – The ECB suspends Yorkshire from hosting international or major matches “until it has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member and first-class county”, while Ballance is “suspended indefinitely” from England selection.

November 5, 2021 – Ahead of an emergency board meeting Hutton resigns as Yorkshire chairman, calling on the executive board to follow suit and saying he was “saddened” after claiming the ECB declined to help in their enquiry. Lord Patel is appointed as the new chair, with board members Malik and Stephen Willis also resigning. Former Yorkshire all-rounder Rana Naved-ul-Hasan claims he heard Vaughan make inappropriate comments to Asian players at the club, something which Rafiq had also alleged and which Vaughan denies.

November 11, 2021 – Mark Arthur resigns as Yorkshire’s chief executive following intense pressure. Rafiq renews his long-standing calls for Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon to resign after reaching a settlement in his employment tribunal against the county earlier in the week, with those sentiments echoed by culture minister Chris Philp in the House of Commons. Moxon remains signed off with a “stress-related illness” but Arthur follows the lead of Hutton by leaving his post at Headingley.

November 15, 2021 – Adil Rashid joins Rana in backing Rafiq’s claim related to Vaughan. The trio allege Vaughan said in front of a group of Yorkshire players of Asian ethnicity: “Too many of your lot, we need to do something about it.”

November 16, 2021 – Rafiq provides explosive details of his time at Headingley at a DCMS select committee hearing and also suggests the racially derogatory use of the term ‘Kevin’ by Ballance was “an open secret in the England dressing room.” He also alleges another former England batter, Alex Hales, gave a dog the name because it was black. Later, his statement from his settled employment tribunal with Yorkshire reveals damning allegations against Ballance, Moxon, Andrew Gale, Tim Bresnan and Matthew Hoggard. Broadcaster David Lloyd also apologises for comments he made.

November 17, 2021 – Hales breaks his silence on Rafiq’s assertion that there was a racial connotation to the naming of his dog, saying in a statement that it was an accusation he “categorically and absolutely denies”. Former Yorkshire captain David Byas, who was named by Rafiq in the DCMS select committee hearing as being “known” for using racist phrases, also denies any wrongdoing, insisting he was “at a loss” over the accusations given he had stopped working at Yorkshire before Rafiq joined. He says in a statement: “I deny emphatically that I have used the phrases attributed to me in paragraph 47 of Azeem Rafiq’s witness statement and I equally categorically refute any suggestion that I was known for such.”

November 18, 2021 – Rafiq issues an apology after it is revealed he sent anti-Semitic messages to a fellow player more than a decade earlier. He was forced to confront his own past shortcomings when The Times uncovered an exchange with former Warwickshire and Leicestershire player Ateeq Javid. In it, Rafiq made offensive remarks about an unidentified person. Having reviewed the messages, Rafiq confirms they are authentic but that he is furious at his own actions. “I am incredibly angry at myself and I apologise to the Jewish community and everyone who is rightly offended by this,” he says on Twitter.

November 19, 2021 – The game’s stakeholders hold a crisis meeting after which ECB chief executive Tom Harrison promises “wide-ranging action to tackle discrimination”. ECB representatives meet with chairs of the 18 first-class counties, the Professional Cricketers’ Association, the MCC and others from the non-first-class counties and recreational game and emerge claiming a broad agreement to deal decisively with the issue.

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