Sunday, June 26, 2022

Rafiq wants to ‘shut up’ racism scandal as ECB files charges

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Azeem Rafiq said he was one step closer to “closure” after charges were brought against Yorkshire and “a number of people” over allegations of racism at the club and the handling of those allegations.

Rafiq said the trial that led to the England and Wales Cricket Board announcing charges on Wednesday had been “unnerving” for him personally, two years after his initial allegations of racism and harassment at two Yorkshire stations .

He called for the hearings to be held in public, but given the ECB’s decision not to name the accused, that seems highly unlikely.

“This has been another grueling but sadly necessary process,” the 31-year-old said in a statement. “It’s been a long two years since I’ve made my experience public, but I hope it all means that no young player ever has to go through such pain and alienation again.

“I would prefer this hearing to be held in public, but I am confident that we are at least approaching a point where there will be some sense of completion for my family and I.”

The ECB has opted not to name the accused, but a report has named seven people who would now attend hearings before an independent panel of the Cricket Discipline Commission.

These individuals have been contacted for comment.

The ECB said the CDC panel’s hearing to consider the cases is expected to take place in September or October, with decisions and full written justifications to be made public after the hearing.

Yorkshire said they had received notification of the charges and evidence gathered during the investigation and would be reviewing and cooperating with the proceedings.

However, they pointed out that there were allegations dating back to 2004 and “would require the cooperation of the relevant authorities at that time to fully investigate and respond to the matters raised”.

The ECB launched its investigation in November last year after widespread criticism of Yorkshire’s handling of Rafiq’s allegations.

On Wednesday, it said the investigation was “thorough and complex,” and thanked witnesses and others who came forward.

Rafiq first alleged racism and bullying in September 2020 related to his two tenures at the county of 2008-14 and 2016-18.

Yorkshire launched an investigation into the allegations, but it was not until September 2021 before even a summary of the findings of that investigation was released.

The county accepted that Rafiq had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying, but only confirmed seven out of 43 allegations. The following month, Yorkshire said no disciplinary action would be taken against anyone as a result of the investigation.

Political pressure on Yorkshire and the ECB mounted further when it was reported last November that a Yorkshire player had admitted to investigators that he had repeatedly racially abused Rafiq, but the inquest found it was part of “banter “ was. between the couple.

The ECB stripped Yorkshire of the right to host lucrative international games at Headingley pending the enactment of governance changes. New chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel – who replaced Roger Hutton last November – oversaw the approval of these changes at an extraordinary general meeting of club members in March this year.

Rafiq presented harrowing evidence of his cricket experience at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport hearing last November, and the committee’s chairman, Julian Knight, told the PA news agency: “I welcome the fact that the ECB going on with it and I look forward to the outcome.

“Cricket needs to understand and learn that what happened back then in Yorkshire – and which appears to have possibly happened in other parts of the game – cannot happen again.

“There needs to be an overall commitment to ensuring that those from all communities who love the game of cricket feel equally valued and that needs to be at the core of all ECB activities and the broader game in this country.”

In his testimony before the committee, Rafiq made new allegations of racial discrimination in relation to former England internationals Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan, Alex Hales and Gary Ballance.

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

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

Nottinghamshire batsman Hales categorically denied after last November’s DCMS hearing that he had any racial connotations when he named his dog “Kevin” – a word Rafiq allegedly used as a derogatory term for people from minority ethnic groups.

Rafiq has also claimed former England captain and ex-Yorkshire team-mate Michael Vaughan told him and a group of players of Asian descent in 2009 that there were “too many of you” in Yorkshire and that “we need to do some of that”.

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

A fourth player, Ajmal Shahzad, said he had no recollection of the comment Vaughan allegedly made.

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