26 June 2023

Yorkshire hope sanctions for poor handling of Azeem Rafiq case are ‘reasonable’

26 June 2023

Yorkshire hope the sanctions imposed over their handling of the Azeem Rafiq case and their failure to tackle the use of racist language over many years will be “reasonable” and will not hinder their efforts to continue bringing about change at the club.

The England and Wales Cricket Board will make its sanctioning recommendations to an independent Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) panel at a hearing in London on Tuesday, with Yorkshire having admitted to four charges in February.

The county will then offer up arguments in mitigation to the panel, which will deliver the final sanctions at a later date.

Yorkshire released a statement on Monday afternoon saying the hearing “marks the near culmination of a chapter that has weighed heavily on Yorkshire County Cricket Club for close to two years”.

The county’s statement added: “Racism and discrimination in any form is unacceptable and, as a board, we have been clear on the need to take accountability for the historical cultural issues that allowed racist and discriminatory behaviour to go unchallenged at the club.

“The acceptance of four amended charges brought by the CDC was part of a continued effort to acknowledge what happened in the past so we can learn and move forward.

“In making representations to the CDC panel, we hope to achieve a reasonable sanction which takes into account our acceptance of the charges, YCCC’s current financial position and the robust work we have undertaken to build the foundations for a club which is truly inclusive and welcoming to all.”

Any significant financial sanctions could hit the club hard, with chief executive Stephen Vaughan highlighting a £3.5million cash shortfall this year to members at the annual general meeting in March, and the need to repay £14.9m to the Graves Trust.

The club said last week they were still having “positive conversations” around the long-term financial future of the club and would make an announcement “in due course”.

The club’s statement on Monday concluded: “We hope that any sanctions are reflective of the circumstances the club is in today and do not serve to hinder our ongoing commitment to create a brighter future for all associated with Yorkshire.”

The first admitted charge is that Yorkshire mishandled the investigation report into allegations of racism and bullying by former player Rafiq which they received in August 2021, in that they rejected the findings of the report in respect of allegations it upheld, and failed to take adequate disciplinary action against then-current employees about whom allegations were upheld.

The second charge admitted relates to the mass deletion by persons unknown of emails, documents and log files related to the club’s response to the report, discovered in or around November 2021 during the course of the ECB’s investigation into Yorkshire.

The third charge concerned the club’s failure to take adequate action following receipt of allegations of racism or discriminatory behaviour. The charge highlighted in particular the handling of racism complaints by Rafiq back in 2018, an allegation of racist abuse of an Asian family by a spectator at a match at Headingley between Yorkshire and Lancashire on August 11, 2017 and a report made concerning a racist incident in the crowd at Scarborough during a game between Yorkshire and Surrey on June 25, 2018.

Finally the club admitted a failure to address systemic use of racist and/or discriminatory language at Yorkshire over a prolonged period and in relation to multiple employees and/or players of the club.

Six former Yorkshire employees were sanctioned in May as part of the same case, with all of them found to have used the word “P***”.

A seventh, former England captain Michael Vaughan, was cleared in March of using racist and/or discriminatory language towards a group of four players of Asian ethnicity, including Rafiq, before a Twenty20 match in 2009.

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