On Azeem Rafiq and Yorkshire Cricket Club's racism scandal | #RunRacismOut



The fallout from the Yorkshire cricket racism scandal that has engulfed the sport has undoubtedly left a stain on English cricket. Priority above all is the fact that the treatment of Azeem Rafiq must continue to be condemned. Recent developments should not undercut the psychological impact the abuse had on Rafiq, with the off-spinner having previously revealed how it had left him on the brinkThis is a reality further compounded by what he describes as Yorkshire County Cricket Club's unwillingness to “listen” or “change”. 

"But Yorkshire don't want to listen and they don't want to change. And part of the reason for that is the people who were involved in the incidents I'm talking about are still at the club. They just want to sweep it under the carpet.

"But not this time. Not again. I know what I'm doing here. I know that by speaking out I'm damaging my chances of working in the game again. But I also know it's the right thing to do and if I have to stand alone to do it, I will."

The above comments from Rafiq were made in September of 2020. It is telling that despite a long-overdue reckoning on racism in sport only last year, the content of his remarks still largely remain accurate even now. 

One individual who has admitted to using racial insults is batsman Gary Ballance, who is still employed by the cricket club, but this should not obscure what Rafiq has identified as "institutional racism and abject failures to act by numerous leaders at Yorkshire County Cricket Club." From missed deadlines for Rafiq and the ECB to receive a report on Yorkshire County Cricket Club's findings, to heavily redacted versions handed to the victim of this abuse, to Yorkshire's internal investigation that found "no conduct" warranting disciplinary action from any of its players or executives, it's no surprise that so little has been done to confront the issue.

This denial has not stopped key leadership figures from taking action of their own. The resignation of chairman Roger Hutton, who was replaced by Lord Patel last week, has been followed by Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur today. He has similarly chosen to exit following the public furore. 

‘Racism is not banter’, is the mantra that has been adopted, and the campaign group Hope Not Hate have also helped to draw attention around why some of the racist language used is as venomous as many know it to be; sadly, some are yet to get the message. Rafiq has faced further vitriol and abuse for speaking out about the racism he endured over his two spells at Yorkshire.

As per the Telegraph, this includes accusations that he is on a "one-man mission to bring down the club" and similar fury expressed at the apology issued to him last month. Given this reaction, is it any wonder why so many still feel conflicted about reporting racist abuse? If we take heed of Rafiq’s concern over an unwillingness to listen or change, it might be a bit clearer why this is often the case.

Mayowa Ayodele


The nature of leadership in cricket has come under question following the racist abuse of Azeem Rafiq. Learn more about who holds influence across leading positions in sport at the Colour of Power.com.