Sunday, June 26, 2022

Yorkshire is cooperating with the ECB after being indicted over racism allegations

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Yorkshire has pledged full cooperation after being indicted by the English Cricket Board over allegations of racism in the county.

The England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Wednesday that disciplinary proceedings would be opened against Yorkshire and “a number of people” following an investigation into Azeem Rafiq’s allegations.

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

The ECB did not name the accused. Hearings before an independent panel of the ECB’s Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) are expected to take place in September or October.

A statement from Yorkshire said: “Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) has just received the long-awaited notification of the charges and evidence arising from the Cricket Disciplinary Commission’s (CDC) investigation into previous failings at YCCC, and checks them.

“For the sake of clarity, YCCC notes that the allegations relate to charges dating from 2004 to 2021 and the club requires the cooperation of the relevant authorities during this time to fully investigate and respond to the matters raised.

“As long as and until such cooperation is provided by those with first-hand knowledge and responsibility during the relevant period, the Club cannot comment on the investigation, evidence, reports or charges, but will of course continue to cooperate fully with the CDC during this process.”

The ECB launched its investigation last November after Rafiq presented harrowing evidence at a hearing of the Special Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Rafiq, who first claimed racism and bullying in September 2020, welcomed the development and hopes he is one step closer to “closing” the matter.

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

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

The Cricketer has named seven people he knows will face a hearing. The PA news agency has reached out to these people for comment.

The ECB also confirmed that Yorkshire will face charges over the way Rafiq’s allegations have been handled.

It was not until September 2021, after Rafiq’s IPO, that a summary report of the findings of an investigation launched by the county was released. The county said it accepts that Rafiq was a victim of racial harassment and bullying, but only confirmed seven out of 43 allegations, concluding that no one would face disciplinary action.

This reaction sparked widespread criticism and a political backlash that resulted in Rafiq being invited to address the DCMS committee.

A statement from the ECB said: “Yorkshire County Cricket Club and a number of people have been charged today following the ECB’s investigation into racism and other allegations against the club and the handling of those allegations.

“The ECB’s investigation was thorough and complex, with allegations spread over a considerable period of time and a number of witnesses and others coming forward to share their own experiences and allegations.”

The ECB stripped Yorkshire of the right to host lucrative international games at Headingley pending the enactment of governance changes. These were adopted in March of this year under the new chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel.

DCMS committee chair Julian Knight told the PA news agency: “I welcome the fact that the ECB is going ahead with this 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.”

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