Politicians demand action over racism at top English cricket club

A senior British legislator has called for the board of Yorkshire Cricket Club to resign over its handling of racism towards former player Azeem Rafiq, as other politicians also demanded action amid a growing furore.

Rafiq, 30, says he was racially abused while playing for the club to an extent that he felt like an outsider and contemplated taking his own life. He left Yorkshire in 2018 at the end of a second spell.

Other politicians also joined Knight in denouncing Yorkshire’s response.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, whose brief includes sport, called on English cricket’s governing body, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), to respond.

“Azeem Rafiq’s treatment after the racism he faced was disgusting, and the investigation that followed only makes it even worse,” she tweeted on Tuesday.

“The @ECB_cricket investigation must be swift and fully transparent. Racism must be confronted, and NEVER written off as just ‘banter’.”

Racial remarks made in spirit of ‘banter’: Report

Yorkshire had commissioned the formal independent investigation following claims made by Rafiq last year that the club was blighted by “institutional racism”.

The condemnation this week followed an ESPNcricinfo article published on Monday including redacted details of the independent report, which upheld seven of more than 40 allegations levelled by Rafiq and acknowledged he had been the “victim of racial harassment and bullying”.

According to ESPNcricinfo, an unnamed current senior player admitted to regularly using a racially abusive slur – “P*ki” – in reference to Rafiq.

However, the panel conducting the inquiry concluded it was unreasonable for Rafiq, of Pakistani descent and a former captain of the England Under-19, to have been offended by the comments as they were made “in the spirit of friendly banter”.

But Health Secretary Sajid Javid condemned the abuse and demanded the ECB take action.

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