Statement: Azeem Rafiq and Yorkshire County Cricket Club

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In September 2020, Yorkshire County Cricket Club launched a formal investigation into Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of institutional racism whilst at the club. Racially offensive terms were used against him, which were linked to his Pakistani heritage.

On the 10th September 2021 YCCC released a summary of the findings in the report. The summary said:

“Rafiq as the “victim of racial harassment and bullying” with seven of the 43 allegations upheld, although the club said they could not release the full report for legal reasons. They said there had been insufficient evidence to conclude the club were institutionally racist.”

BBC News, 5th November, 2021

Race Equality Network condemns the findings of the report and the approach taken by YCCC. This has now had a negative impact on the discourse around racial slurs, which has opened conversations around racial language and behaviour.

Azeem Rafiq said:

“I spoke out because I wanted to create change at the club. I bought a legal challenge because the club refused to acknowledge the problem and create change. For the first time that I can remember I have hope this might happen. YCCC and the sport at large desperately need reform. I will continue to campaign against institutional racism. I urge others who have suffered to come forward. There is strength in numbers and I will be right behind you.”

Race Equality Network has challenged institutional racism over the last 20 years. It is unacceptable that a leading institute such as YCCC considers offensive language as “banter”. Sports should be a diverse and safe place for all and it is necessary for these organisations to root out any sort of racism that anyone faces. We welcome the appointment of Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford as chairman of YCCC and commend him for taking swift and immediate action.

Lord Patel said:

“I am committed to showing the club is wholly inclusive and actively anti-racist and anti-discriminatory from this point onwards. My first undertaking as chair is to listen to those who have experienced racism, discrimination and abuse and to ensure their guidance is central to how we move forward as a club. I urge others to come forward and share their experience. We are ready to listen, ready to believe and ready to change.”

Race Equality Network condemns all forms of racial discrimination and our focus is on rooting out racism at all levels of society and across all organisations. We are actively working with organisations across the district to help improve engagement with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and tackle all forms of discrimination.

Board of Race Equality Network Board, 10th November, 2021

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