Azeem Rafiq settled his employment court case with Yorkshire amid praise and received an apology from Kamlesh Patel, the club’s new president, for lifting the veil on the racism he encountered as he was a player at Headingley.
Speaking on Monday afternoon, just three days after taking over the Yorkshire Presidency, Lord Patel revealed he spent nearly seven hours over the weekend chatting with Rafiq, who received a payment at six figures. After what he described as “the first important steps” towards rebuilding the crisis-torn club, the 61-year-old pledged to lead “urgent and seismic change” at the club to ensure that a repetition never happens again.
Patel said, “I thank Azeem for his bravery in speaking out. Let’s be clear from the start: Racism or discrimination in any form is not a joke. Azeem is a whistleblower and as such should be commended, he never should have gone through this.
“We are sorry for what you and your family went through and the way we handled it. What happened to you must never happen again.
Of their conversations, he said: “It was difficult and it was actually quite sad. It was hard for me, it was incredibly hard for him, ”he said. “You thought, ‘Why would we do this to any human being’? “
Along with the settlement and an invitation for Rafiq to participate in the rebuilding process, Patel announced an independent review of the club’s reporting processes after admitting the 12-month investigation was “flawed.” A hotline is also set up to allow players or employees, past or present, to share similar experiences.
Patel, the former vice-chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Council, wants a period of ‘truth and reconciliation’ while simultaneously tackling the looming financial crisis in Yorkshire. Sponsors have fled and next year’s England men’s fixtures – worth more than £ 3.5million in revenue – could move elsewhere unless the club can prove they are reform.
Rafiq will receive compensation as part of his Yorkshire settlement – another cut in the coffers of a county with more than £ 18million in debt – but, most importantly, the 30-year-old has not signed a deal. ‘nondisclosure agreement and can speak freely on the matter. Patel apologized for the stipulation which was part of the club’s previous negotiations.
In a statement, Rafiq thanked Patel for a “good start”, reiterated his intention to testify before the parliamentary committee on digital, culture, media and sport next week and urged Mark Arthur, the chief executive, and Martyn Moxon, the director of cricket, resign.
Rafiq says he reported locker room issues to the pair and Hanif Malik, the club’s former diversity president, in 2018, with the summary of the report released in September concluding that the club did not properly step up this in accordance with its policies.
“Mark Arthur, Martyn Moxon and many of the coaching staff have
is part of the problem, ”Rafiq said. “They have always failed to take responsibility for what happened under their watch and have to leave. I urge them to do the right thing and step down to make room for those who will do what is necessary for the future of the club.
Patel said he had not yet had time to fully peruse Yorkshire’s over 100-page report into Rafiq’s allegations, but added: “What I’ve seen so far pains me. comfortable. It gives me the impression that the process was not as well finished as it should have been.
Regarding Arthur and Moxon, who have not spoken publicly on the matter since Rafiq made his allegations public in 2020, Patel said he would listen to their side of events before making decisions about their future, though. that with the caveat that “leadership is important in all of these circumstances”.
It remains to be seen whether the controversial report into Rafiq’s allegations will ever be made public, with Patel confirming that it will initially only go to those with a “legal interest”, including the Equality Commission and Human Rights and MP Julian Knight, Chairman of the DCMS Committee.
The scandal has had many aspects, including a recent admission by drummer Gary Ballance that he used racist language towards Rafiq during their time as teammates, something referred to as characteristic of their “friendly” verbalizations.
Patel, who has said he will speak to all current players, including those who have been serving in England, insisted that anyone using the P word in any context would be shown the door. He added, however, that individuals can change, citing the historic tweeting storm that engulfed England’s Ollie Robinson over the summer as a model for such incidents.
Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, also denied telling four players of Asian descent – Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan – that there were “too many of you. , we have to do something about it ”in 2009. Rana, the former Pakistani fast bowler, has since confirmed that he too heard this at the time.
Vaughan, who was removed from the live broadcast on BBC Radio 5 on Monday evening, had previously refused to speak to the investigative team over the past year, but Patel’s message to the former player of the Yorkshire was now to engage with the club. “I will make sure this is done in a fair and appropriate manner,” Patel said.
Patel spoke for nearly an hour at Headingley and included his own experiences of racism growing up in Bradford after his family emigrated from Kenya in the 1960s. He described himself as learning to be a fast runner, a weekend out of two seeing “skinheads engage in Paki-bashing”. Cricket, he explained, saved him.
These experiences, and a pioneering career in social work that earned him an OBE in 1999, informed Patel’s approach after being parachuted into the current crisis; The same is true of his tenure on the ECB’s board of directors, during which he contributed to the development of the governing body’s South Asian engagement plan.
“Inclusion runs in my blood,” Patel added. “Yorkshire is my home and I want to make the club a place for all people from all walks of life. I want to find the next Joe Root, the next Virat Kohli, the next Babar Azam. This is their home, the door is wide open, come and live your dreams here.
“I am determined to make this club the beating heart of English cricket again. After 158 years, we are ready to change. We are ready to embrace the past and we are ready to become a club that people can trust to do the right thing.
In Dubai, where he competes in the T20 World Cup, Moeen Ali was asked what impact the publicity surrounding Yorkshire would have on the sport. “I don’t think it will have too much of an impact,” he said. “On the contrary, it gave a voice to a lot more people – people who probably didn’t feel like they could speak before.
“What Azeem has done he’s not doing for personal gain, I think he wants change and that’s what he’s pushing. In the future it might have an impact at first, but I think beyond that it will be great. Sometimes it takes a bit of soaking to really get out and that’s from a Yorkshire perspective too. Across the cricket community, the culture, there are going to be big changes. “