Azeem Rafiq cricket racism case: Yorkshire chairman resigns
- I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge, Yorkshire chairman said
- He joined the Yorkshire board in 2020, almost two years after Rafiq ended his second stint
- The board finds this matter abhorrent, ECB said in a statement
In the wake of former player Azeem Rafiq's racism allegations against the English cricket club, Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton tendered his resignation, citing an unwillingness by the club to accept the claims and a refusal to apologize.
“Today I announce my resignation as chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, with immediate effect," Hutton said Friday.
“There has been a constant unwillingness from the executive members of the board and senior management at the club to apologize, and to accept that there was racism, and to look forward. For much of my time at the club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge.”
Hutton joined the Yorkshire board in 2020, almost two years after Rafiq ended his second stint at Headingley, and says he has never met the player.
The allegations resulted in Yorkshire being suspended from hosting international matches as punishment for its handling of the racism case that has shaken the sport.
The England and Wales Cricket Board slammed the club for its “wholly unacceptable” response to the racism faced by Rafiq.
A number of Yorkshire's sponsors have deserted the beleaguered club, and the ECB said the case “is causing serious damage to the reputation of the game.”
“The ECB find this matter abhorrent and against the spirit of cricket and its values,” the governing body said in a statement.
Yorkshire's Headingley Stadium was scheduled to host England's Test against New Zealand and a men’s one-day international against South Africa in 2022, as well as an Ashes Test against Australia in 2023.
But the ECB said the club is "suspended from hosting international or major matches until it has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue.”
Last month, Yorkshire said that it would not take any disciplinary action against any of its employees, players or executives despite a report that found that Rafiq — one of its former captains — was the victim of racial harassment and bullying.
“During my time as chairman, I take responsibility for failing to persuade them to take appropriate and timely action," Hutton said Friday.
“This frustration has been shared by all of the non-executive members of the board, some of whom have also now resigned.."
Rafiq, a former England under-19 captain, said in interviews last year that as a Muslim he was made to feel like an “outsider” during his time at Yorkshire from 2008-18. He added that he close to taking his own life.
A formal independent investigation was commissioned by Yorkshire into more than 40 allegations made by Rafiq, with seven of them upheld in a report released last month.
On Wednesday, former England cricketer Gary Ballance admitted using a racial slur against Rafiq when they were teammates at Yorkshire. He, however, clarified that "this was a situation where best friends said offensive things to each other which, outside of that context, would be considered wholly inappropriate.”