Yorkshire racism scandal shows game needs better leadership, says Michael Atherton |  Cricket News

Yorkshire racism scandal shows game needs better leadership, says Michael Atherton | Cricket News


Michael Atherton

Cricket Expert & Columnist

Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire first surfaced in September 2020; Yorkshire began investigation, but it was not until August 2021 they apologised to Rafiq; after further parliamentary and ECB inquiries, the county and seven individuals were recently charged

Last Updated: 06/23/22 2:00pm

Headingley is hosting its first international since the racism scandal that engulfed Yorkshire CCC.  Sky Sports' Michael Atherton called the events a lesson in how not to manage a crisis, and warned it is not over yet

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Headingley is hosting its first international since the racism scandal that engulfed Yorkshire CCC. Sky Sports’ Michael Atherton called the events a lesson in how not to manage a crisis, and warned it is not over yet

Headingley is hosting its first international since the racism scandal that engulfed Yorkshire CCC. Sky Sports’ Michael Atherton called the events a lesson in how not to manage a crisis, and warned it is not over yet

The racism scandal at Yorkshire which Azeem Rafiq recently exposed has shown the lack of leadership both at the county itself and within the England and Wales Cricket Board, according to Sky Sports pundit and former England captain Michael Atherton.

Rafiq’s allegations of institutional racism while at Headingley first surfaced in September 2020, when the former Yorkshire player said in an interview with ESPNcricinfo that “deep-rooted” racism at the county had left him “close to committing suicide”.

Yorkshire swiftly launched an investigation, but it was not until August 2021 that they issued “profound apologies” to Rafiq after stating that their report into his claims found that he was “the victim of inappropriate behaviour”, which they described as “clearly unacceptable” .

The ECB have charged 'a number of individuals' in relation to allegations of racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, without naming who those people are.  Yorkshire have also been charged with breaching anti-racism rules.

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The ECB have charged ‘a number of individuals’ in relation to allegations of racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, without naming who those people are. Yorkshire have also been charged with breaching anti-racism rules.

The ECB have charged ‘a number of individuals’ in relation to allegations of racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, without naming who those people are. Yorkshire have also been charged with breaching anti-racism rules.

However, the county did not accept his claim of institutional racism, stating that “many of the allegations were not upheld and for others, there was insufficient evidence for the panel to make a determination”.

Rafiq accused Yorkshire of “fudging” his claims and promised that he was “not going away” and after a further inquiry and then an ECB investigation, it was only recently that the county and seven individuals were charged by the latter.

Atherton, however, says this whole episode has been an example of how not to handle such affairs.

Really what this shows is the game needs better leadership, the leadership from Yorkshire and ECB has not been good enough. Better leadership is required

Michael Atherton

“It has been a very troubling story over the last year, one which has almost brought this great club to its knees and may yet do so,” Atherton told Sky Sports. “It is not over, there is much more to come and we will see how that pans out over the next few months.

“I think we can say a couple of things without fear of contradiction – one is how badly Yorkshire have handled this situation from the moment Azeem Rafiq made his claims against the club, to the recent sacking of 15 or 16 employees here. a test case really in how not to crisis management, the club have handled it terribly.

“The second thing to say is that for an issue of this importance, the lack of due process we have seen. So in response to Azeem Rafiq’s claims, Yorkshire held an internal inquiry that seemed to be limited in scope, they seemed not to be able to force people to come and give evidence or testimony, they did not publish the results of those findings, and when Kamlesh Patel, the new chairman, came in, he said that inquiry was deeply flawed.

James Cole says Tom Harrison's legacy as the chief executive of ECB has been affected by the organisation's handling of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.

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James Cole says Tom Harrison’s legacy as the chief executive of ECB has been affected by the organisation’s handling of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.

James Cole says Tom Harrison’s legacy as the chief executive of ECB has been affected by the organisation’s handling of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.

“Then we had the hearings, which seemed to be prejudged by the MPs involved, and then recently we have had the ECB inquiry which, similar to the Yorkshire one, there is not much transparency there, for some good reasons as well.

“But it is limited in scope, we do not know who they have talked to. We know plenty of people they have not talked to who have been central to this case and they have recently charged seven people and then those hearings will be held in September.”

Atherton hopes, though, that the crisis will end soon for Rafiq and all those involved in it.

“It is going to go on and on and I am doubtful we will see some closure here. For all these people involved, both for Azeem Rafiq, who made the claims against the club, and those who he is making the claims against, I hope that there is some closure eventually,” he added.

Yorkshire Cricket Club are looking to rebuild after former player Azeem Rafiq accused the club of years of racism.  Sky Sports News' Rob Jones looks at the challenges facing the county.

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Yorkshire Cricket Club are looking to rebuild after former player Azeem Rafiq accused the club of years of racism. Sky Sports News’ Rob Jones looks at the challenges facing the county.

Yorkshire Cricket Club are looking to rebuild after former player Azeem Rafiq accused the club of years of racism. Sky Sports News’ Rob Jones looks at the challenges facing the county.

However, the main lesson to be according to the whole scandal is how the game itself requires stronger leadership, both at county and national level in the future, to Atherton.

“Really what this shows is the game needs better leadership, the leadership from Yorkshire and ECB has not been good enough.

“Better leadership is required because when you think of this great club, there are more cricket clubs in Yorkshire than in the whole of Australia. Think of the demographic just in the regions of this ground [Headingley]Bradford and Leeds, this really should be the beacon of what cricket can be in this country,” Atherton said.

“And let’s hope that this club can rise again…”

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