Yorkshire issue Azeem Rafiq apology as club admits to "inappropriate behaviour"

Yorkshire have issued a "profound" apology to former spinner Azeem Rafiq after a report upheld "several" of his allegations of racism.

Last year, Rafiq opened up about the racism he experienced during his time at Yorkshire in interviews with the Cricket Badger Podcast, Wisden and ESPNcricinfo.

Rafiq told both Wisden and ESPN that he "had a captain who was openly racist" and shared several examples of the racism that he and others suffered at the club, revealing that his experiences left him on the brink of "committing suicide".

Former Pakistan international Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, who spent two seasons playing alongside Rafiq at Yorkshire, later echoed his former teammate's experiences in an interview with ESPNcricinfo.

Following Rafiq's comments, Yorkshire launched an investigation into his claims and, almost a year later, the report has been completed and sent to the club.

Yorkshire received the report over the weekend but initially decided not to publish or comment on its findings, prompting Rafiq to call on the ECB to "step in".

ECB Chairman Ian Watmore then sent an official letter to the county demanding a copy of the report and "a timeline for publication".

Following Watmore's involvement, Yorkshire have now issued a statement in which they apologised for the length of time it took for the report to be put together and stated that they plan to "publish as much of the report and recommendations as we are able, subject to any legal restraints".

The report looked at Rafiq's specific allegations and "whether Yorkshire County Cricket Club was institutionally racist".

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Despite revealing in their statement that "several of the allegations made by Azeem were upheld", Yorkshire stopped short of admitting that Rafiq had experienced racism at the club, instead stating that he was "the victim of inappropriate behaviour".

They went on to offer Rafiq a "profound" apology, with the statement reading: "There were many allegations made against the Club most of which relate to a period more than ten years ago.

"Many of the allegations were not upheld and for others there was insufficient evidence for the Panel to make a determination.

"It is right, however, to acknowledge from the outset that several of the allegations made by Azeem were upheld and that sadly, historically, Azeem was the victim of inappropriate behaviour.

"This is clearly unacceptable. We would like to express our profound apologies for this.

"The Panel also found that the Club failed to implement its policies and procedures in relation to these serious issues. The Club understands the importance of the Panel’s findings."

Roger Hutton, the club's chairman, added: "I would like to acknowledge Azeem’s courage in raising these issues, and his participation in the investigation, which I understand must have been very difficult.

"I would also like to express my sincere apology to him for certain failings by the Club, which have been highlighted by the Panel.

"He has very obviously experienced some difficult and distressing times during the time since 2008 and the Club could, and should, have supported him better.

"Since I joined the board in 2020, it has become obvious to me that both prior to and since, it has continually tried to improve its relationship with diverse communities.

"It has however not progressed far enough, particularly as we learn to see the world from fresh eyes, and I consider that this report will be a platform for further important changes at YCCC."

In response to statement, Rafiq took issue with the club's reference to "inappropriate behaviour", tweeting: "'Inappropriate behaviour' are you sure about that @YorkshireCCC??

"You carry on playing with your words & fudging this best way possible ITS NOT GOING AWAY!! #EnoughIsEnough "

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