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Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton has resigned with immediate effect, as the fallout from Azeem Rafiq’s racism allegations against the club continues to grow.
Hutton was this week called to appear in front of the parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee to explain Yorkshire’s handling of Rafiq’s claims and the independent report into the matter.
He has now decided to leave his post, citing frustration at board members and senior management.
Today I announce my resignation as chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, with immediate effect. It is with great sadness to leave a Club I was immensely proud to serve and have loved since watching my first game from the old County Stand at the age of seven.
“Today I announce my resignation as chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, with immediate effect,” he said.
“There has been a constant unwillingness from the Executive members of the Board and senior management at the Club to apologise, and to accept that there was racism, and to look forward.
“For much of my time at the Club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge.”
Hutton joined the Yorkshire board in 2020, almost two years after Rafiq ended his second stint at Headingley, and says he has never met the player.
Despite that he has now opted to take a share of responsibility for the county’s response to claims which have been in the public domain for more than a year and were raised through formal channels long before. He has called on the executive members of the board to follow his lead and resign.
ECB Board statement on Yorkshire County Cricket Club
— England and Wales Cricket Board (@ECB_cricket) November 4, 2021
Most recently, Yorkshire determined that no employees would face any disciplinary action despite the independent panel upholding that Rafiq had been a victim of racial harassment and bullying.
“During my time as chairman, I take responsibility for failing to persuade them to take appropriate and timely action. This frustration has been shared by all of the non-executive members of the Board, some of whom have also now resigned,” he continued.
“I now call for those executive members of the Board to resign, to make way for a new path for the club I love so much.
“When someone makes claims as serious as his, they need to be investigated and changes need to be made. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Azeem.
“I am sorry that we could not persuade executive members of the Board to recognise the gravity of the situation and show care and contrition.”
Developments in the long-running case have escalated at pace this week, ever since it was revealed by ESPNCricinfo that the independent report had resolved the repeated use of the offensive term “P***” was delivered “in the spirit of friendly banter”.
British sport has so much to be proud of. And it should never, ever, tolerate racism. https://t.co/s7QQi9X6gy
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) November 4, 2021
Since then an exodus of sponsors and commercial partners has unfolded, while political pressure from the halls of Westminster has ramped up.
As well as the DCMS committee session, which has been set for December 16, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said “heads should roll” at the club and a cohort of 36 Yorkshire MPs and metro mayors, including former Labour leader Ed Miliband, demanded the England and Wales Cricket Board take decisive action in its role as national governing body.
Former England batsman Gary Ballance issued a lengthy statement admitting that he was guilty of using a “racial slur” against Rafiq, during a long and deep friendship in which he claims both men said inappropriate things to each other.
Ashes-winning England captain Michael Vaughan penned a column for the Daily Telegraph on Thursday night revealing he had also been named in the independent report but denying specific allegations against him.
England captain Eoin Morgan is unfazed at his side’s T20 World Cup campaign being overshadowed by the affair, insisting serious matters “need to be met head-on”.
Morgan’s side’s campaign out in the Gulf – where they have won all four matches to all-but secure a semi-final spot – has slipped under the radar but Morgan insisted affairs of this significance need to be tackled immediately.
Ahead of England’s final Super 12s game against South Africa on Saturday, Morgan said: “If matters are of an extreme or serious nature like these are, they need to be met head-on. For us as a team, that’s exactly what we want to see.
“Yes, we want to see the sport in a great light but equally if there’s an issue as serious as this we want it dealt with as well.
“We firmly believe that there is no place in our sport for any type of discrimination, and I think the actions of the ECB board to Yorkshire have indicated how serious they are about dealing with issues like this.”