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Muslim cricketer was racially bullied but no evidence club’s institutionally racist

24th Sep 2021
Muslim cricketer was racially bullied but no evidence club’s institutionally racist

Azeem Rafiq receives 2008 Yorkshire CCC Academy Player of the Year from Yorkshire County Cricket Club President the late Brian Close.
(Credit:Mdcollins1984/Wiki Media Commons)

Nadine Osman

“There is no question” Muslim Asian cricketer Azeem Rafiq suffered racial bullying during his tenure at the Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) but there is insufficient evidence to prove the club is institutionally racist, reported an independent panel on September 10.

Azeem Rafiq made serious allegations about his time with the YCCC during an interview with the cricket publication Wisden on August 7, 2020. The allegations forced the club to appoint lawyers to launch an investigation under an independent panel.

“There is no question that Azeem Rafiq, during his first spell as a player at YCCC, was the victim of racial harassment. He was also subsequently the victim of bullying. On behalf of all at YCCC, I wish to extend my sincere, profound and unreserved apologies to Azeem and his family,” said County Chair Roger Hutton.

YCCC said Rafiq had made over 40 allegations, seven of which were upheld in the report. Those that had not been were, in some cases, due to “insufficient evidence”, Hutton said.

The report found Rafiq, whose first spell at Yorkshire was between 2008 and 2014, had not been provided with halal food at matches. According to the report, there were three instances of racial harassment occurring before 2010.

The report said that in 2012 a former coach “regularly used” racist language. In his second tenure (2016 to 2018), he was subject to jokes about religion that made him uncomfortable.

Rafiq’s weight and fitness were criticised, which constituted bullying. The report also accepted that there was a failure by the club in August 2018 to follow up on allegations Rafiq.

The final allegation to be upheld was that on several occasions before 2018 the club could have done more to make Muslims feel more welcome within their stadiums and should have dealt better with complaints of racism and anti-social behaviour within those stadiums.

Crucially, though, the report found there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the club was institutionally racist. It also found that all decisions made concerning his selection and ultimate release from the club were entirely based on cricketing reasons.

Hutton said: “There were a great many people at the club who cared deeply for Azeem and who worked extremely hard over a long period to develop and assist him, both personally and professionally, and who celebrated his successes and championed him at the club.

“And there were others that worked exceptionally hard with him on his cricket, particularly when he struggled for form.”
Yorkshire said the investigation team from the law firm Squire Patton Boggs had looked at 43 allegations in all and conducted 29 interviews with 26 witnesses.

The investigation team conceded that “many individuals” declined to participate, which hindered its ability to make a definitive conclusion.

Many have criticised Yorkshire over the length of time the process has taken—including Rafiq himself – but the county said, “Whilst the process took longer than was hoped, the panel took the view that it was more important to get it right than to do it quickly.”

Hutton said it was “a matter of sincere regret” that the work of so many to make the club inclusive to those from ethnically diverse backgrounds was at risk of being overshadowed by “the behaviour and remarks of a few people”.

“I am confident the responsible way that the report has been received by the whole club, together with the clear and collective determination to enthusiastically embrace its recommendations, is an important moment in our journey to become more thoughtful, more inclusive and to make sure that every aspect of the club fully lives up to the spirit of the great game of cricket,” Hutton said.

A spokesman for Rafiq has hit out at the way the club for confirming “racism and bullying has taken place on many occasions, yet won’t accept the obvious – that this is an institutional problem.”

Adding, “We also note that Baroness Morgan, the former Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has written to Yorkshire County Cricket Club in recent days demanding that Azeem see a full copy of the report. We further note the letter to Yorkshire from Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, on Wednesday [September 8]. We welcome their interventions.”

One Response to “Muslim cricketer was racially bullied but no evidence club’s institutionally racist”

AlsahdiqSeptember 26, 2021

People who are closer to the Lord, Lord Almighty, Lord God, have most people friendly attitude and habits. It is so because of humility they have in their habits and practices dealing with the fellow mankind.
Muslims have been commanded to face every adversity with the Wisdom i.e. “Wustayeenoo bis subr wus Salaat .
While going out of the house, every Muslim needs to be reminded to recite the third Kalimah. Humility is an absolute must in thoughts, words and practices of every Muslim.
Humility helps people win friends and arrogance i.e. bragging, boastfulness etc. make people lose friends.

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