Azeem Rafiq: Cricket faces day of reckoning with UK lawmakers

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Whereas many sports activities gamers and governing our bodies have been grappling with points surrounding race and inequality on and off the pitch, cricket remains to be seen as “staunchly conservative,” Tom Fletcher, ​an educational in occasions, tourism and hospitality administration at Leeds Beckett College, advised CNN.

“As you get additional by the system, the sport will get whiter and whiter,” he stated. “That occurs in all walks of the sport, [it] occurs inside teaching as properly,” Fletcher, whose analysis focuses on racism and social justice, stated.

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq remodeled 40 allegations towards YCCC ​that he says befell between 2008 and 2018, in line with a report abstract of an unbiased inquiry performed on behalf of the membership, which famous that in nearly all circumstances he alleged he was topic to racial harassment or bullying.

Rafiq stated the expertise left him near taking his personal life.

Although YCCC ​stated the inquiry solely upheld seven of Rafiq’s claims they conceded: “There isn’t any query that Azeem Rafiq, throughout his first spell as a participant at YCCC, was the sufferer of racial harassment.”
In addition to Rafiq, senior administration from the membership ​have been invited to attend the session, and lawmakers will take into account what actions ought to comply with.
The allegations have raised uncomfortable questions for the England and Wales Cricket Board, which regulates English cricket.

The ECB’s Chief Government Officer Tom Harrison and Chair Barry O’Brien may also face questions from British lawmakers at Tuesday’s inquiry, in line with a parliamentary be aware despatched on Monday.

Azeem Rafiq of Yorkshire bats during day three of the County Championship Division One match between Middlesex and Yorkshire at Lords on September 22, 2016 in London, England.

String of allegations

In August, YCCC issued a press release saying “most of the ​(Rafiq’s) allegations weren’t upheld” by an investigation it requested a panel of volunteer consultants to conduct. The membership’s assertion didn’t specify which.

For different allegations, the assertion stated “there was inadequate proof.” Nevertheless it stated that “a number of” of Rafiq’s allegations had been upheld, and that he had been “the sufferer of inappropriate behaviour.

Not less than one participant admitted to recurrently utilizing the time period ‘P**i’ — a phrase extensively seen as a slur and used towards folks of South Asian and Center Japanese origin in Britain — when speaking to Rafiq, in line with a report seen by ESPNcricinfo and detailed this month.

However the report stated that the participant ​in query was exonerated as a result of ​the overview panel noticed the feedback as “banter” between the 2 gamers, ESPN​cricinfo reported.

In keeping with ​the abstract of YCCC’s September ​2021 report “Rafiq and his teammate’s language in the direction of one another was unacceptable and was racist and derogatory and the Panel didn’t condone the language.”

In a press release posted to his Twitter account in October, Rafiq stated that the investigation into his allegations of racism “lacked transparency and due course of​,” ​and that he had not been allowed to see the report, which he stated was accomplished in August.

Not less than one different participant has come ahead to corroborate particulars of the racism Rafiq says he endured at YCCC.

Final week, former YCCC academy participant Irfan Amjad advised the BBC that he was racially abused by a member of employees when he was 16 years outdated.

Amjad alleged that his batting fashion was criticized by a member of employees, referencing his Pakistani heritage.

“I used to be shocked, did not know what to do and was shocked. I had by no means been straight racially insulted like that to my face. I did not know what to do,” he stated.

One other former Yorkshire academy participant Tabassum Bhatti advised BBC Sport he was subjected to racism from teammates on the membership as a 14-year-old.

Bhatti stated ​”gamers urinated on his head, desecrated one other Muslim participant’s prayer mat and used racist language aimed toward his Pakistani heritage.​”

YCCC didn’t reply to CNN’s request for remark concerning the allegations from Amjad and Bhatti.

The white rose logo for Yorkshire County Cricket Club is pictured outside Headingley, the home of Yorkshire cricket on November 5, 2021.

‘Staunchly conservative’

In keeping with Fletcher, cricket in Britain on the prime echelon of the game faces a big range problem.

“Within the UK, on an novice stage a little bit over a 3rd of people that play cricket are from a South Asian background,” Fletcher advised CNN.

“The statistical proportion of gamers from different ethnic teams apart from whites ​could be very low,” Fletcher, whose analysis focuses on racism and social justice, stated.

“The difficulty lies with the way you make these transitions from novice to video games and the way you turn into acknowledged,” added Fletcher, noting that cricket remains to be thought of to be “staunchly conservative” when in comparison with different sports activities.

Jamaican born Maurice Chambers advised The Cricketer ​in a chunk revealed on Monday that he skilled racism at Essex ​Nation Cricket Membership, with ​”a senior member of the teaching employees studying out racist jokes within the dressing room,​” and a colleague calling him a “f***ing monkey.”

The membership launched a press release, saying that “The allegations reported in the present day, involving Essex and one other membership, make distressing studying. Every thing which has been reported might be taken very significantly and investigated completely.”

CNN has reached out to Essex for additional remark.

Former Essex participant Zoheb Sharif additionally made allegations of racist abuse regarding his time on the membership between 2001 and 2004​, revealed for the primary time final week.

“It was a day after the September 11 assaults. Folks began calling me Bomber,” Sharif advised the Mirror.

Essex Cricket Chief Government, John Stephenson, stated he was “shocked and saddened​” to listen to of racial allegations involving a former participant, relationship again to 2001.

“There may be completely no place for discrimination of any sort at Essex County Cricket Membership and we now have a zero-tolerance coverage in the direction of racism.

“I instantly reached out to the previous participant to supply him my and Essex County Cricket Membership’s full help and to encourage him to return ahead and speak to myself and the Membership about his experiences,” he added.

However “up till now, English cricket specifically has been fairly quiet on its place [on racism],” Fletcher stated.

“Maybe as a result of really they know full properly [in] any kind of gesture.. they may line themselves as much as criticism in the event that they had been to take a place on racism — in order that gamers might come out and say properly, you did not help my declare,” he stated.

Azeem Rafiq of Yorkshire plays a shot during day one of the County Championship Division One match between Yorkshire and Warwickshire at Headingley on Aug. 2, 2013 in Leeds, England.

What occurs now?

Lawmaker Julian Knight, chair of the Digital, Tradition, Media and Sport choose committee has already referred to as on the board of YCCC to resign within the wake of the allegations made by Rafiq.

“Given the endemic racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Membership, I wrestle to consider any purpose why … the board ought to stay in publish,” Knight, chair of the DCMS choose committee, stated on Twitter in early November.

Membership chairman, Roger Hutton, ​resigned earlier this month and apologized for what he described as “a relentless unwillingness” on the a part of the membership’s management “to apologize and to simply accept racism and to look ahead.”

Hutton apologized to Rafiq in a press release, saying that although he was not on the membership through the interval the cricketer was employed, “the membership ought to have acknowledged on the time the intense allegations of racism.

In the meantime, head coach Andrew Gale has been briefly suspended whereas underneath investigation for ​a “historic” tweet he despatched, YCCC stated, although they didn’t give additional particulars concerning the tweet.

Following the allegations, quite a few excessive profile sponsors have left the membership, which has been suspended by The England and Wales Cricket Board from holding internationals and different large video games “till it has clearly demonstrated that it could meet the requirements anticipated of a world venue, ECB member and First Class County,” the ECB said.

The membership’s new chair Lord Patel final week introduced the creation of a whistleblowing hotline and has urged different​s to “come ahead and share their experiences.”

Mohinderpal Sethi QC has been appointed to guide an unbiased investigation trying into claims lodged by the hotline.

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