Yorkshire chief executive quits after racism scandalon November 11, 2021 at 5:39 pm

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Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur resigns following the racism scandal at the club.

Azeem Rafiq

A report found former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying” but the county said it would not discipline anyone, drawing widespread condemnation.

Arthur is the latest senior figure to leave Yorkshire in the wake of a scandal that has engulfed cricket.

His exit follows the resignation of chairman Roger Hutton last Friday.

On Monday, Lord Patel took over, apologising to Rafiq and adding that the former Yorkshire player should be praised for showing bravery as a whistleblower.

On Tuesday, Yorkshire suspended coach Andrew Gale for a tweet he sent in 2010.

Martyn Moxon, their director of cricket, is absent from work because of a “stress-related illness” and “will be given the necessary support”.

Yorkshire have been suspended from hosting international matches by the England and Wales Cricket Board and a host of sponsors have ended their deals with the club.

In a statement on Thursday, Lord Patel said of Arthur: “We thank him for his tenure.

“This is an important moment for the club, which is ready to move forward with new leadership, which will be vital in driving the change we urgently need.

“We know there is still much work to be done and more difficult decisions to be made. We need to rebuild the trust of the fans, the cricketing world and the public.”

In his statement, Arthur did not reference Rafiq but did list 10 achievements from his time at the club.

They including the financing and construction of the new South Stand at Headingley, as well as back-to-back County Championship wins and the club’s six year south Asian engagement programme.

“I’ve had eight fantastic years at the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, working alongside an outstanding group of people, and together achieving many highlights,” he said.

Rafiq publicly detailed his experiences at Yorkshire, which left him close to taking his own life, for the first time in September 2020.

In September 2021, a year after Rafiq went public with his allegations, Yorkshire released its own summary findings of the report and subsequently said no-one would be disciplined.

But the investigation was widely criticised after it reportedly found a racist term about Rafiq’s Pakistani heritage was regularly used towards him while at the club and concluded it was “friendly and good-natured banter”.

Rafiq report timeline

2 September 2020: Following an initial interview with Wisdenexternal-link, ESPN Cricinfo publish an article with Rafiqexternal-link in which he claims “institutional racism” at Yorkshire County Cricket Club left him close to taking his own life.

3 September 2020: Yorkshire says it has launched a “formal investigation” into the claims made by Rafiq and chairman Roger Hutton says the club would be carrying out a “wider review” of its “policies and culture”

5 September 2020: Yorkshire asks an independent law firm to investigate racism allegations against the club by Rafiq.

13 November 2020: Rafiq says he hopes to bring about “meaningful change” after giving his first statement to the inquiry.

15 December 2020: Rafiq files a legal claim against Yorkshire “claiming direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race, as well as victimisation and detriment as a result of trying to address racism at the club”.

2 February 2021: Yorkshire threatens a lifetime ban for anyone found to have made threats against Rafiq or his family and legal team, after ESPN Cricinfo shows the club messages sent to Rafiq’s legal firm.

17 June 2021: An employment tribunal case between Rafiq and his former club Yorkshire fails to find a resolution. The independent investigation into his racism allegations remains ongoing.

16 August 2021: Yorkshire receives the findings of an independent investigation into the racism allegations and, two days later, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) asks for a copy.

19 August 2021: Yorkshire, yet to release the findings of the report at this stage, admits Rafiq was “the victim of inappropriate behaviour” and offer him “profound apologies”.

Rafiq accuses Yorkshire of downplaying racism by calling him the victim of “inappropriate behaviour”.

8 September 2021: MPs tell Yorkshire to publish the findings of the report “immediately”.

10 September 2021: Yorkshire releases the findings of the report, which says Rafiq was the “victim of racial harassment and bullying” and seven of the 43 allegations made by the player were upheld by an independent panel.

According to Hutton, the report said there was “insufficient evidence to conclude that Yorkshire County Cricket Club is institutionally racist”.

Yorkshire released a summary of the panel’s report and recommendations, but said the full report could not be released for legal reasons “in relation to privacy law and defamation”.

8 October 2021: Yorkshire misses a deadline to send the full report to Rafiq and his legal team after BBC Sport understands an employment judge ordered the club to release it in full by Friday, 8 October.

13 October 2021: Rafiq then receives a heavily redacted version, while the ECB says it is still awaiting the full report.

28 October 2021: Yorkshire says it carried out its own internal investigation after the findings in the report and concluded that “there is no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives that warrants disciplinary action”.

2 November 2021: The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee calls on Hutton to appear before it to answer questions about Yorkshire’s handling of a report into Rafiq’s allegations of racism.

MP Knight, chair of the DCMS select committee, calls on the board of Yorkshire County Cricket Club to resign after a leaked report emerges apparently containing details of the investigation into the treatment of Rafiq.

A story published by ESPN says the report had concluded that a racially offensive term used towards Rafiq was regarded as “banter”.

Knight makes his comments after health secretary Javid calls for “heads to roll” at Yorkshire and said if the ECB did not take action “it’s not fit for purpose”. He further states in a Twitter post that the term allegedly used to describe Rafiq was “not banter”.

The ECB announces it will conduct a “full” investigation into the situation.

3 November 2021: The date of the DCMS hearing is scheduled for 16 November and Rafiq is called to give evidence in person, along with senior Yorkshire officials.

Several sponsors, including primary sponsor Emerald Publishing and Yorkshire Tea, end their partnerships with Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Current Yorkshire batter Gary Ballance releases a lengthy statement expressing regret for using a racial slur against former team-mate Rafiq.

4 November 2021: The ECB board suspends Yorkshire from hosting international matches.

Kit supplier Nike ends a four-year deal, announced in March 2021.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan says he was named in the report but “totally denies any allegation of racism”.

5 November 2021: Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton resigns over the club’s response and apologises “unreservedly” to Rafiq. Two further board members also quit and a fourth will step down in the near future. Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford is appointed as a director and chair of the club.

Former Yorkshire player Rana Naved-ul-Hasan says he heard an alleged racist comment made by Vaughan to a group of Asian players.

8 November 2021: Speaking for the first time since his appointment, Lord Patel apologises to Rafiq and says the club has settled the employment tribunal with its former player.

9 November 2021: Yorkshire suspend coach Andrew Gale for tweet he sent in 2010.

Sport and culture minister Chris Philp says the UK government is ready to “step in” if Yorkshire and the ECB do not take “real action” following the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.

Ex-Yorkshire academy player Tabassum Bhatti gives BBC Sport an account of experiencing alleged racism from team-mates at the club as a 14-year-old.

11 November 2021: Test captain Joe Root says the racism scandal at his county side has “fractured our game and torn lives apart”.

In response, Rafiq tweets that he was “incredibly hurt” that Root said he could not recall ever witnessing racism at Yorkshire.

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