Yorkshire pledge to cooperate with ECB after being charged over racism claims

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Yorkshire face charges over racism allegations (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Archive)
Yorkshire face charges over racism allegations (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Archive)

Yorkshire have pledged to cooperate fully after being charged by English cricket’s governing body in relation to allegations of racism at the county.

The England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Wednesday that Yorkshire and ‘a number of individuals’ would face disciplinary proceedings following an investigation into claims made by Azeem Rafiq.

Former Yorkshire player Rafiq made a series of allegations about how he was treated during two spells at the club from 2008-14 and 2016-18.

The ECB has not named the individuals charged. Hearings in front of an independent panel of the ECB’s cricket discipline commission (CDC) are expected to take place in September or October.

A statement from Yorkshire read: “The Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) has just received the long-expected notification of the charges and evidence resulting from the Cricket Disciplinary Commission’s (CDC) investigation into past failings at YCCC and is reviewing it.

“For clarity, YCCC notes that the allegations relate to charges as far back as 2004 up until 2021 and the club will need the cooperation of those in position during this time in order to fully consider and respond to the matters raised.

“Unless and until that cooperation by those with first-hand knowledge and responsibility during the relevant period is forthcoming, the club is not able to comment on the investigation, evidence, report or charges but will, of course, continue to fully cooperate with the CDC throughout this process.”

The ECB launched its investigation last November after Rafiq gave harrowing evidence at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing.

Rafiq, who first alleged racism and bullying back in September 2020, welcomed the development and hopes he is a step nearer to “closure” over the matter.

The 31-year-old said in a statement: “This has been another gruelling but unfortunately necessary process.

“It has been a long two years since I went public about my experiences, but I hope this all means that no young player ever goes through such pain and alienation again.

“My preference would be for this hearing to take place publicly, but I am hopeful that we are at least nearing a point where there will be some sense of closure for my family and me.”

The ECB said its decision not to identify individuals “at this stage” was normal practice “in matters of this nature”.

The Cricketer has named seven people it understands will face hearings. The PA news agency has contacted those individuals for comment.

The ECB also confirmed Yorkshire are facing a charge into the way Rafiq’s allegations were handled.

After Rafiq went public it was not until September 2021 that even a summary report of the findings of an investigation initiated by the county was published. The county said it accepted Rafiq had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying but upheld only seven of 43 allegations and concluded no individuals would face disciplinary action.

That reaction sparked widespread criticism and a political backlash that led to Rafiq being invited to speak before the DCMS committee.

An ECB statement read: “Yorkshire County Cricket Club and a number of individuals have today been charged following an ECB investigation into racism and other allegations at the club and its handling of those allegations.

“The ECB’s investigation has been thorough and complex, with the allegations covering a significant period of time and a number of witnesses and other individuals coming forward to share their own experiences and allegations.”

The ECB stripped Yorkshire of the right to host lucrative international matches at Headingley until governance changes were enacted. Under new chair Lord Kamlesh Patel these were enacted in March this year.

DCMS committee hair Julian Knight told the PA news agency: “I welcome the fact that the ECB is proceeding with this and I look forward to the outcome.

“Cricket must understand and must learn that what happened at Yorkshire at that time – and that appears to have potentially happened in other parts of the game – can’t happen again.

“There needs to be a thorough commitment to ensure that those from all communities who love the game of cricket feel equally valued, and that must be front and centre of everything the ECB and the wider game does in this country.”

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