Azeem Rafiq racism row timeline: Yorkshire appoint new chairperson

Azeem Rafiq

Questions continue to be asked of Yorkshire in the wake of Azeem Rafiq’s claims of institutional racism, with the county still to release the full report following their enquiry into the matter or take action against any of their employees.

Here we provide a timeline of developments so far.

September 2, 2020 – In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, former England Under-19s captain Rafiq reveals: “I know how close I was to committing suicide during my time at Yorkshire” over what he describes as “institutional racism” at the county.

September 3, 2020 – Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton confirms a formal investigation into Rafiq’s claims will “start in a matter of days” and be conducted “thoroughly, impartially and with urgency”, while Hanif Malin, the chair of the club’s Equality and Diversity Committee, is in contact with Rafiq.

September 5, 2020 – Independent law firm Squire Patton Boggs is hired by Yorkshire to lead an investigation and review into the racism experienced by Rafiq.

Middlesex v Yorkshire – Specsavers County Championship – Division One – Day Four – Lord's
In November 2020, Azeem Rafiq revealed details of the racist abuse he had received during his time at Yorkshire (John Walton/PA)

November 13, 2020 – Rafiq reveals details of the racism he faced at Yorkshire in a release issued through his legal firm Chadwick Lawrence LLP. He reveals non-white players were called “P***s” and “elephant washers”, while the drinking culture at the club is highlighted with regard to insensitivity around Muslim attitudes to alcohol.

December 14, 2020 – Chadwick Lawrence LPP confirms Rafiq has filed a legal claim against Yorkshire under the Equality Act, claiming direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race, as well as victimisation and detriment as a result of his efforts to address racism at the club.

June 17, 2021 – Yorkshire confirm they have failed to “resolve the issues between the club and Azeem Rafiq” through the process of judicial mediation, with the case still within the employment tribunal process and set to be listed for a private Case Management Conference.

August 18, 2021 – England and Wales Cricket Board chair Ian Watmore calls on Yorkshire to provide a copy of the investigation’s findings after he confirms the independent enquiry had sent its conclusions to the county, with Rafiq revealing his exasperation with the continued delays to the process.

August 19, 2021 – Rafiq accuses Yorkshire of “fudging” his claims of institutional racism after the county apologise to the former spinner for being the “victim of inappropriate behaviour” but insist “many of the allegations were not upheld” in a lengthy statement following the conclusion of the enquiry.

DCMS Committee chair Julian Knight MP
DCMS Committee chair Julian Knight MP commented on the Azeem Rafiq case in September (House of Commons)

September 8, 2021 – Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chair Julian Knight MP tells Yorkshire to publish the report into Rafiq’s claims of racism, stating: “It is crucial that the process, the report and its full findings are made public and open to scrutiny.”

September 10, 2021 – Yorkshire release a summarised version of their independent report, where they apologise and accept Rafiq had been the victim of “racial harassment and bullying” in his two spells at the club between 2008 and 2018, but after only seven of Rafiq’s 43 allegations were upheld the county insist there is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove institutionalised racism.

October 7, 2021 – A spokesperson for Rafiq accuses Yorkshire of “protecting the players and a coach who they now acknowledge used either racist language or were bullying” with the full report still not published.

November 2, 2021 – ESPNcricinfo reveals details of the report into Rafiq’s claims, which includes the admission of one senior player that he used the word “P***” in reference to Rafiq, but Yorkshire conclude the incidents in question amounted to “friendly banter”. Health secretary Sajid Javid says “heads should roll” at Yorkshire in the wake of mounting political pressure surrounding Rafiq’s long-running claims, while chairman Hutton is called to face the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

November 3, 2021 – Emerald Group Publishing, Yorkshire Tea and Anchor Butter all end their association with Yorkshire over the handling of Rafiq’s allegations. Meanwhile, former England batter Gary Ballance reveals he used “a racial slur” against Rafiq but claimed both men “said things privately to each other which were not acceptable”. Rafiq appeared to question the timing after he tweeted, “Funny how things change from complete denial to I accepted everything over a 14-month period?”

November 4, 2021 – The ECB suspends Yorkshire from hosting international or major matches “until it has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member and first-class county”, while Ballance is “suspended indefinitely” from England selection.

November 5, 2021 – Ahead of an emergency board meeting Hutton resigns as Yorkshire chairman, calling on the executive board to follow suit and saying he was “saddened” after claiming the ECB declined to help in their enquiry. Former Yorkshire all-rounder Rana Naved-ul-Hasan claims he heard ex-England captain Michael Vaughan make racially insensitive comments to Asian players at the club, allegations Vaughan denies. Lord Patel is appointed as the new chair, with the club saying in a statement: “It is resolved to do whatever it takes to regain the trust of all its stakeholder inside and outside the game.”