Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) risks “legitimising racism” if the heavily delayed investigation into its toxic culture is not published by the start of April, Azeem Rafiq’s lawyer has claimed.
In August, Mr Rafiq, a former England under-19 captain who played for YCCC in 2008-18, revealed the racism he suffered at the club. YCCC chairman Roger Hutton admitted “change was needed… especially in terms of racial inclusivity” and announced an investigation into Mr Rafiq’s allegations about his treatment and the club’s culture. Former YCCC players Tino Best and Rana Naveed-ul-Hassan have since corroborated Mr Rafiq’s allegations.
This investigation was originally expected to finish by December and, when first delayed, shortly after Christmas. The investigation was still not ready when a separate employment tribunal launched by Mr Rafiq against YCCC started this month.
The next hearing of the tribunal is scheduled for 16 and 17 June, yet there is still no firm date for the completion nor publication of YCCC’s review. The latest suggestion is spring, but the continued delays mean there is little faith that this will mean publication in March, April, or even May.
Mr Rafiq’s solicitor, Asma Iqbal of Chadwick Lawrence LLP in Leeds, said: “We want to see a thorough investigation, which is why we accepted that this inquiry would take longer than initially suggested. The continued delays, however, create a lack of faith in the entire process and means trust in the sport’s ability to clean up its act is being seriously undermined.
“At best, the delay is tone deaf when former players, coaches, and umpires are bravely coming forward about their dreadful experiences. At worst, the delay shows fear of the investigation’s possible findings and the impact they might have on the employment tribunal. Failure to act quickly and decisively only risks legitimising racism.
“I urge YCCC and its appointed panel and lawyers to complete this investigation by the start of April at the latest, giving all sides time to review the findings ahead of the employment tribunal. That will have been seven months, which is far more than enough time to produce a thorough and conclusive report. The longer this is delayed, the longer we have to wait for the reforms YCCC so badly needs if it is to become an inclusive, progressive club.”