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Yorkshire and ‘a number of individuals’ charged by ECB over racism allegations

Yorkshire and a number of individuals have been charged by the ECB following an investigation into racism allegations from Azeem Rafiq (Danny Lawson/PA)
Yorkshire and a number of individuals have been charged by the ECB following an investigation into racism allegations from Azeem Rafiq (Danny Lawson/PA)

Yorkshire and “a number of individuals” have been charged by the England and Wales Cricket Board following an investigation into racism allegations made by Azeem Rafiq, and the handling of those allegations by the club.

The ECB did not name any of the individuals who have been charged.

The ECB said the charges arose from alleged breaches of ECB directive 3.3 – conduct which is improper or which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket or any cricketer into disrepute – and of its anti-discrimination code.

The governing body said that an independent panel of the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) would now hear the cases in due course, with the expectation that these would take place in September and October.

The ECB said it was standard practice for the CDC panel to publish its decisions and written reasons in full. The governing body said it would be making no further comment.

Rafiq first raised allegations of racism and bullying in September 2020, related to his two spells at Yorkshire from 2008-2014 and 2016-2018.

Yorkshire were criticised for the length of time it took to even publish a summary of their investigation into those allegations. In September 2021 the club finally released a statement saying Rafiq had been the victim of “racial harassment and bullying” and upheld seven of his 43 allegations.

However, the following month the club confirmed nobody would be disciplined.

Political pressure on Yorkshire and the ECB mounted last November when it was reported that a player had admitted to investigators that he had used racial slurs towards Rafiq but that the investigation concluded this was in the context of “banter” between the pair.

The ECB launched its own inquiry and on Wednesday said the investigation had been “thorough and complex”.

A report by The Cricketer earlier on Wednesday named seven individuals who it said had been charged. The PA news agency has approached Yorkshire, and  the individuals named by The Cricketer.

Lord Kamlesh Patel took over as chair of Yorkshire last November
Lord Kamlesh Patel took over as chair of Yorkshire last November (Danny Lawson/PA)

Roger Hutton quit as Yorkshire chair last November and was replaced by Lord Kamlesh Patel, who immediately settled an employment tribunal claim brought by Rafiq.

As well as the investigation into Yorkshire’s handling of Rafiq’s allegations, the ECB stripped Yorkshire of the right to host lucrative international matches until governance changes were enacted.

Those changes were finally approved on March 31 this year, when hosting rights were restored.

Rafiq said in a statement issued on Wednesday: “I welcome today’s announcement by the ECB and hope we can move to the hearing quickly.

“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.”

Yorkshire confirmed they had been notified of the charges, which they said related to allegations going as far back as 2004 right up to last year.

“The club will need the co-operation of those in position during this time in order to fully consider and respond to the matters raised,” the county’s statement said.

“Unless and until that co-operation 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 co-operate with the CDC throughout this process.”

On November 16 last year Rafiq had given harrowing testimony to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee.

In his evidence to the committee, former England internationals Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan, Alex Hales, along with Ballance, had all been subject to fresh claims of racial discrimination.

Gary Ballance issued an apology for using a racial slur towards Rafiq
Gary Ballance issued an apology for using a racial slur towards Rafiq (Jason O’Brien/PA)

Ballance, who is still with Yorkshire but has not played yet this season, apologised for using a racial slur towards Rafiq, but Rafiq said in March that he had not received an apology directly from Ballance.

Hoggard has apologised to Rafiq, while Tim Bresnan has apologised for bullying Rafiq but has categorically denied making racist comments.

Nottinghamshire batsman Alex Hales categorically denied after the DCMS hearing last November that there was any racial connotation to him naming his dog Kevin.

Rafiq alleged that Ballance used the word ‘Kevin’ as a derogatory term towards people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has categorically denied making a racist comment to a group of players of Asian ethnicity at Yorkshire in 2009
Former England captain Michael Vaughan has categorically denied making a racist comment to a group of players of Asian ethnicity at Yorkshire in 2009 (Jason O’Brien/PA)

Rafiq has also alleged that former England captain and ex-Yorkshire team-mate Michael Vaughan had said to him and a group of players of Asian origin in 2009 that there were “too many of your lot” at Yorkshire and that “we need to do something about it”.

Vaughan has categorically denied making that comment. Rana Naved-ul-Hasan corroborated Rafiq’s claim however, as did current England player Adil Rashid.

A fourth player, Ajmal Shahzad, said he had no recollection of the comment Vaughan is alleged to have made.