The former England international was subjected to racial abuse throughout his career, the report says.
Azeem Rafiq, a former England junior captain, led Yorkshire in a Twenty20 match in 2012.
According to the conclusions of a study published by his previous club Yorkshire, Azeem Rafiq was the “victim of racial abuse and bullying.”
An impartial panel found seven of the player’s 43 accusations to be true.
Rafiq and his family received “deep and unreserved apologies” from Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton.
“There is no doubt that Azeem Rafiq was the subject of racial abuse during his initial stint as a player at YCCC,” Hutton said in a statement. “He was also the target of bullying after that.”
Yorkshire has published a summary of the panel’s findings and recommendations, but has said that the entire report cannot be disclosed due to “privacy legislation and defamation.”
According to a statement released on Rafiq’s behalf, the former player got a copy of the results “just a few minutes before the media.”
“We must call attention to the heinous manner in which this procedure is still being handled. The remark made this morning came as a complete surprise to Azeem “Added a spokesman.
“Because Yorkshire has not given a copy of the study, Azeem and his colleagues are unable to fully comprehend the club’s findings and how they arrived at them.”
“This is obviously inexcusable and a misuse of the legal system.”
“What is apparent is that Yorkshire County Cricket Club acknowledges racism and bullying on many occasions, but refuses to accept the obvious – that this is an institutional issue.”
The study said that there was “insufficient evidence to establish that Yorkshire County Cricket Club is institutionally racist,” according to Hutton.
“The panel was unanimous in determining that it could not reach a judgment of institutional racism on the basis of inadequate evidence, and the panel was not saying that there was no evidence of institutional racism,” according to the report’s conclusions.
Rafiq is anticipated to make another statement in the following days.
The results have been characterized as “extremely worrisome” by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
“It is obvious that the game owes him an apology,” ECB head Ian Watmore said.
“Racism has no place in cricket, and what Azeem went through was completely unacceptable.”
“Because the ECB just saw the statement and summary report today for the first time, we will now study the contents in detail to determine whether additional action is necessary.”
What conclusions may be drawn from the findings?
The bulk of the accusations were dismissed owing to “insufficient evidence,” according to Yorkshire.
The club claimed “several people” refused to participate in the investigation, which “impacted its capacity to establish definitive conclusions one way or another.”
The following seven accusations were found to be true:
- Rafiq was not given halal food during matches while he was playing youth cricket for Yorkshire. This has been fixed now.
- [Prior to 2010], the panel discovered three distinct instances of former players using racist language, which were determined to constitute harassment on the basis of race.
- Prior to 2012, a previous coach had a history of using racist words.
- Between 2016 and 2018, when he was at Yorkshire for the second time, there were jokes about religion that made people feel uncomfortable about their religious beliefs.
- During his second stint at the club, a former player made abusive comments about Azeem Rafiq’s weight and fitness.
- When Azeem Rafiq expressed concerns about racism in August 2018, the club failed to follow its own policy or examine the accusations.
- Prior to 2018, the club should have done more to make Muslims feel more welcome at its stadiums and could have handled complaints of racist or anti-social behavior in those stadiums more effectively.
“No choices by the coaching staff or the Club, related either to Azeem’s participation within a squad or his eventual departure from the Club, were found to be for anything other than cricketing considerations,” the study said.
Rafiq, who left Headingley in 2018, stated in an interview with ESPN Cricinfo in September 2020 that as a Muslim, he felt like a “alien.”
Squire Patton Boggs, a legal firm, was hired by the club to undertake an independent inquiry.
Yorkshire, which got the results on August 13, issued a statement six days later saying Rafiq had been the “victim of improper behavior” and offering him their “deep apologies.”
Rafiq retaliated by accusing the club of minimizing the issue of racism.
Following criticism from cricket’s governing body and MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee, the results were released on Friday.
The ECB requested a copy of the results, and MPs urged the club to disclose the study “quickly” on Wednesday.
In reaction to the results, DCMS committee chair Julian Knight MP stated, “It is worrisome that YCCC was first unwilling to disclose its conclusions and had to be pushed into doing so.”
“Equally worrisome is YCCC’s statement’s lack of real repentance. We now know that harassment on the basis of race was maintained after instances of racist language being used by former players and it being’regularly used’ by a coach.
“We need to know what steps will be done against those responsible.”
The investigation’s findings include a set of suggestions and future actions for the club.
These include a review of rules and processes for dealing with discrimination complaints, training for club workers on equality, diversity, and inclusion, an open and fair recruiting process, and improved interaction with minority groups in Yorkshire.
“Reach out to senior Asian ex-professional players and community leaders to be role models and to create a stronger feeling of trust and participation,” the panel said.
“We hope that our investigative evaluation and suggestions will assist cricket in being more inclusive in its totality for people of all nationalities, races, religions, genders, ages, disabilities, and experiences,” the study concludes.
“We will seek to engage with a wider group from different groups to further expand and enhance our inclusiveness, accessibility, and sensitivity to the pulse of contemporary Britain,” the club stated, adding that it will “now eagerly adopt the panel’s suggestions.”