Health Secretary says 'Heads should roll at Yorkshire County Cricket Club' amid racism allegations 6 months ago

Health Secretary says 'Heads should roll at Yorkshire County Cricket Club' amid racism allegations

Sajid Javid says Azeem Rafiq being called ‘P***’ is not banter

Government Minister Sajid Javid has responded to a report into Yorkshire County Cricket Club which has been accused of abject racism toward one of its players.

Advertisement

According to ESPNcricinfo, at least one Yorkshire player admitted to using the racial slur "P***" when talking to Azeem Rafiq, an English cricketer formerly on the team.

The report further alleged that the same player admitted to telling other people "don't talk to him [Rafiq], he's a P**i", asking "is that your uncle?" when they saw bearded Asian men and saying "does your dad own those?" in reference to corner shops.

Despite these shocking allegations, the alleged racist was cleared of wrongdoing, with the report owing the remark to good-natured "banter" between players.

Advertisement

This afternoon (November 2) it was announced Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton will be called by the parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee to answer for the club's handling of the claims.

Rafiq, a former White Rose player, made 43 allegations of racism regarding his time as a player at Yorkshire.

An independent investigation upheld seven of his claims, concluding he was a victim of "racial harassment and bullying".

Yorkshire CCC issued an apology to Rafiq in August 2021, acknowledging that he had been the "the victim of inappropriate behaviour" but refused to take any disciplinary action against its employees, players or executives.

Advertisement

Last week, Yorkshire CCC claimed it was unable to reveal the full findings of the report which has now been leaked to ESPNcricinfo.

No further action will be taken at present against the unnamed cricketer, who is currently a senior player at the club.

The Health Secretary responded to the report's findings by asserting that the term: "'P*** is not banter.

"Heads should roll at Yorkshire CCC", he continued.

Advertisement

Javid said if the English and Wales Cricket board did not take action, it's not fit for purpose.

Rafiq has reposted messages of support from fans on his social media channels.

In a post from earlier this afternoon (November 2), he told his followers to "wake up" to racism in cricket, asking people to recognise the hurt caused by the offensive slur.

Advertisement

He posted an anonymous message from a supporter who said his 11-year-old brother was subject to racism while playing cricket. When he raised alarm, the league refused to aptly investigate his claims.

Horrified Twitter users compared the incident to recent allegations of racism in football, claiming the issue would be front page news had it not been cricket.

Mail on Sunday columnist, Dan Hodges, said "If what happened to Azeem Rafiq had happened to a Premiership footballer it would be leading national news story and a major political issue".

The club's handling of the racism experienced by Rafiq has rapidly become a wider political issue.

Labour MP for Leeds North West, the constituency which covers Headingley Alex Sobel tweeted: “I am very concerned to read today’s report. It’s not acceptable for any organisation to say clearly racist language is just banter.”

Sobel revealed to the Press Association that he has confirmed a meeting with Rafiq.

A primary sponsor of Yorkshire CCC, The Emerald Publishing Group, has also told PA it expects further action to be taken against the club. They said in a statement: “We take all matters related to any form of racism or discriminatory behaviour seriously and expect all our partners to uphold our values

“As sponsors of the Headingley stadium, we are dismayed by the conclusion of an independent panel that the former player, Azeem Rafiq, suffered racial harassment and bullying during his time at the club.

“Whilst the club has offered its unreserved apology for this, and has made a number of positive changes in the intervening years, there is clearly still a great deal more to do.

“We are pursuing the actions from the YCCC in response to their latest statement and will continue to review the findings from the tribunal and ECB investigation in due course.”

Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton is to be called by the parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee for questioning over the club's handling of Rafiq's racism claims.

Related links: