Yorkshire hiring manager says fan is ‘a coward’

The racism scandal engulfing Yorkshire began in September 2020 when former player Azeem Rafiq first spoke out about the racism he encountered at the club.

Yorkshire has said it will launch an investigation after the club’s director of human resources called a fan a “coward” and accused the fan, and former player Azeem Rafiq, of “launching a campaign” against the club on social media.

In the email sent Sunday morning by Yorkshire’s Liz Neto to follower Khalid Akram, and seen on BBC Sport, she said: “I hope you are proud.”

His message, which Akram said left him “distraught and shocked,” came the day before the club’s new president, Lord Patel, he apologized to Rafiq on Yorkshire’s handling of the report on his experiences of racism in the county and praised him as a “whistleblower”.

Akram told BBC Sport: “This is why people don’t complain or talk about discrimination.”

In 2018, Akram made a report to Yorkshire about the racial abuse he and his family had experienced in the Headingley bleachers during an international match.

The club is understood to have passed the case on to West Yorkshire Police, who took no action.

Last week, Akram wrote on social media that the club had “done nothing” regarding his complaint.

He included a screenshot of the communication he had with Neto in 2018, showing that she told him that the club’s chief executive, Mark Arthur, and commercial director Andy Dawson, had “instigated an immediate investigation.”

The screenshot included Ms Neto’s phone number and the post, which was promoted by Rafiq, has since been removed.

Akram told BBC Sport that there was no contact from Yorkshire about the case after they turned the matter over to the police.

On the issue of posting Ms Neto’s contact details on social media, Mr Akram said: “As soon as I was informed, I immediately deleted my post as causing Liz undue distress was never my intention. “. He added that he had considered that Ms. Neto’s details were not a problem as they were in the public domain.

In her email on Sunday, Ms Neto told Mr Akram that it had had “serious consequences” for him to “whip the crowd by being selective” with what was circulating, and that she was speaking to the police about his actions. .

“The full file, along with the full details of my complaint to the West Yorkshire Police, will also be included in the DCMS document file so they can get an idea of ​​the campaign they are running, like you and Azeem Rafiq , on social media. “, he continued, referring to the hearing of the select committee of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in which Rafiq will give testimony next week.

She said: “I have the full archive of documents regarding his complaint in 2018 and the immediate action to investigate taken by the club and West Yorkshire Police.”

Ms Neto also said that Akram’s inclusion of his phone number in his tweet violated data rules, adding: “The fact that he redacted his details but left mine in plain view shows that he is a coward. .

“I hope you’re proud, you certainly sound very proud.”

Akram told BBC Sport: “It has left me crying, distraught and shocked. It makes me think that next time I will not make any more complaints. Instead of being sensitive, I have been pushed to the limit.

“That’s why people don’t complain or talk about discrimination, as it’s like talking to a brick wall. Being called a coward is a horrible label, especially coming from an international cricket club.

“The day before Lord Patel praised Azeem as a whistleblower, they called me a coward and sent me this email saying that Azeem and I are campaigning. How does it work?”

Mr. Akram also added that Ms. Neto had written to him twice using the wrong last name, even though he had corrected her, and that he found this “insulting”.

In response, the new Yorkshire President Lord Patel told BBC Sport: “There must be a period of truth and reconciliation to get to the bottom of our culture and our processes, to learn from our mistakes.

“We want anyone who may have been in trouble to come forward. Allegations will be investigated, including referral to the independent whistleblower hotline that is being established, and this will include the original report and its handling.”

“We have already seen and anticipated a number of problems that will come and all will be reviewed individually. That will take time.”

It is the latest development in a series of accusations of racism in relation to the club, which has led to resignations, including that of former president Roger Hutton, and the suspension of coach Andrew Gale, and has led to the involvement of the UK government.

Rafiq first detailed his experiences in Yorkshire in September 2020, saying they had left him close to taking his own life.

A report partially released a year later found that former Yorkshire player Rafiq was the victim of “racial harassment and intimidation,” but the county said so. I would not discipline anyone.


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