‘Rafiq should be commended for his bravery’

Rafiq played for Yorkshire between 2008 and 2018 and was club captain in a Twenty20 match

Azeem Rafiq should be “commended” for his bravery and “should never have been through” the Yorkshire County Cricket Club racism scandal, says the club’s new president, Lord Patel.

Lord Patel said Yorkshire has reached an agreement on the labor court with Rafiq.

A report found that former player Rafiq was the victim of “racial harassment and intimidation” in Yorkshire, but the club said I would not discipline anyone.

“Azeem is a whistleblower and should be commended as such,” Patel said.

“He should never have been through this.

“We are sorry for what you and your family have experienced and the way we have handled it.

“I am grateful to Azeem for his courage in speaking out. Let me be clear up front, racism or discrimination in any form are not jokes.”

The scandal has gripped cricket for the past week, leading to the resignation of leading figures in Yorkshire, the club’s suspension from hosting international matches and a number of sponsors ending their deals.

In September, a year after Rafiq made his allegations public, Yorkshire published its own summary findings of the report and subsequently said that no one would be disciplined.

But the investigation came under fire after a racist term about Rafiq’s Pakistani heritage was reportedly found to be regularly used towards him while he was at the club and he concluded that it was “a friendly and good-natured joke.”

Patel, a former member of the Cricket Board of England and Wales (ECB) who was appointed on Friday after the resignation of Roger Hutton, said the investigation was “flawed”.

“What I’ve seen so far feels awkward,” he said.

“It makes me feel like the process didn’t go as well as it should have been.”

In a press conference after his appointment, Patel said he had taken four immediate steps in response to the scandal. These are:

  • Settling the labor court with Rafiq, which does not include a confidentiality agreement (NDA), as the club previously requested.
  • Establish an independent whistleblower hotline for other victims of discrimination to come forward.
  • Commission a review of diversity and inclusion processes and procedures in Yorkshire.
  • Share the full report on Rafiq’s allegations with parties who have a “legal interest”, including Rafiq’s lawyers, the ECB and MPs.

In a statement, Rafiq thanked Patel for ending the legal process.

“It shouldn’t have taken the rest of the club a year to realize that they wouldn’t silence me through an NDA,” he said.

“I spoke out because I wanted to bring about a change in the club. I filed a legal claim because the club refused to acknowledge the problem and bring about a change.

“For the first time I can remember, I am hopeful that this will happen, but I will be watching and continue to campaign to make sure it does.”

More to follow.


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