Volunteer writer, Amy Frith, discusses the escalation of consequences for Yorkshire Country Cricket Club regarding the allegations of racism at the club.
15 months ago, Azeem Rafiq opened up about the racism he endured whilst playing at the club, saying there is a problem of institutional racism throughout. A dominant player within the Yorkshire set up for more than a decade, Rafiq spoke on the continued racism he experienced throughout his playing career, saying “at [his]worst, [he]was right on the edge, stood on [his]balcony. [he]would regularly come home from training and cry all day. It was a very difficult time for [him]” (Source: Sky Sports).
Whilst there was an investigation, the findings have only just been released and now action is being taken. It is not only Rafiq who has opened up about discrimination. Sky Sports reported that an unnamed source also experienced racism throughout all levels of the Cricket Club whilst a young player. In December 2020, Rafiq opened up a legal case, citing the Equality Act, due to the harassment he faced whilst with the club. The racism stemmed from his Pakistani origin, with him sharing that he was called an offensive term by a team-mate linking to this (Source: BBC Sport). It appears that many former players see this as being ‘banter’ in the changing room and were unaware of their actions towards the welfare of Rafiq and other players in the Yorkshire set up.
On the 9th November, another former Yorkshire player, Irfan Amjad, also came forward with allegations of racism from staff members during his time as an academy player. Amjad, who is also of Pakistani heritage, says his skills were criticised by coaching staff and was called an offensive term, much like Rafiq.
Actions have been taken by the English Cricket Board (ECB) in recent days, with Yorkshire CCC – who play at Headingley in Leeds – currently suspended form hosting international matches. They were due to host South Africa and the Ashes series but will only be reinstated once the club has shown it “has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected” (Source: BBC Sport).
In light of the inquest, many sponsors have pulled their support from the club: Nike, Yorkshire Tea, Tetley’s beer and David Lloyd for example. Additionally, the Emerald – a local publishing group – have also withdrawn their support, threatening the primary sponsorship of the club. This goes to show how far the club needs to show they are tackling racism to start to gain the support back from not only the fans but the ECB and sponsorship boards.
The government has responded in the form of the select committee of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and will investigate the incidences further; with the Prime Minister calling the ECB to act quickly with the investigation before government intervention.
Yorkshire CCC have issued many statements regarding the allegations, yet deny claims of institutional racism, citing the lack of evidence for a “panel to make a determination” of racism (Source: Sky Sports). Furthermore, Yorkshire have announced they will not be taking any disciplinary action against their employees.
This case will continue to go on and be talked about as the DCMS committee also meet on the 16th November to hear evidence from Rafiq.