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Yorkshire chief quits, crisis deepens

Roger Hutton resigned on Friday and slammed the England and Wales Cricket Board over racism allegation by ex-player Azeem Rafiq
Azeem Rafiq playing for Yorkshire in 2018.
Azeem Rafiq playing for Yorkshire in 2018.
Getty Images

London   |   Published 06.11.21, 04:19 AM

Yorkshire County Cricket Club chairman Roger Hutton resigned on Friday and lashed out at club executives and the England and Wales Cricket Board over the handling of allegations of racism by former player Azeem Rafiq.

Rafiq, who is of Pakistani descent and is a former captain of the England Under-19s, said last year that he was made to feel like an outsider at Yorkshire and that he had contemplated committing

suicide.

 “There has been constant unwillingness from the executive members of the (Yorkshire) board and senior management at the club to apologise and to accept racism and to look forward,” Hutton wrote in his resignation letter shared by the BBC.

“For much of my time at the club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge.”

 Hutton, who joined the board in April 2020, 18 months after Rafiq left the club, also took the opportunity to “apologise unreservedly” to the 30-year-old.

“The club should have recognised at the time the serious allegations of racism,” he wrote. “I am sorry that we could not persuade executive members of the board to recognise the gravity of the situation.”

Yorkshire CCC officials and Hutton were not immediately available for comment, and Hutton’s letter was not carried on the club’s website.

England’s cricket board (ECB) on Thursday suspended Yorkshire from hosting international or major matches.

Rafiq and senior Yorkshire executives have been called to give evidence before a parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) panel on November 16.

 In his letter, Hutton also said the ECB had also been reluctant to act when approached.

“When I was made aware of Azeem Rafiq’s allegations, I immediately reached out to the ECB to ask for their help and intervention to support a robust inquiry,” Hutton wrote.

 “I was saddened when they declined to help as I felt it was a matter of great importance for the game as a whole.”

 The chief executive officer of the ECB, Tom Harrison, said, however, that the ECB could not have joined a Yorkshire panel of inquiry as it is itself the regulator.

 “We were asked to join the Yorkshire panel, to be part of the investigation, which clearly we cannot do. We are the regulator,” Harrison told reporters.

 “A quasi kind of involvement — being regulator and part of the membership of an investigation — is completely against the role that we play. I’m afraid that I disagree entirely with that characterisation of that statement,” he said of Hutton’s claim.

 Talking to reporters on Friday, Harrison said the ECB had taken “unprecedented action” over Yorkshire’s handling of an issue that had brought the game into serious disrepute.

“There are going to be a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds and cultures that have looked at what’s been happening over the last few days and feel very uncomfortable about whether they would want their children to be involved in cricket,” Harrison said.

“So we’ve had to step in the most direct way to defend the values of our sport.”

 With its suspension from hosting major matches and Sponsors, including Nike ending their partnerships with Yorkshire, Harrison said the county faced a financial crisis.

 “We have to move quite quickly into rehabilitation and ensuring that we get the balance between sanction and coming out the other side because a healthy and thriving Yorkshire county cricket club is so important to cricket in this country.”



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