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Yorkshire mocked after posting ‘ironic’ tweet promoting anti-racism message

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Yorkshire have received criticism online after posting what, on the surface, was a harmless tweet promoting a local anti-racism campaign.

The tweet, posted on Wednesday afternoon, read: “Hate has no place in Leeds! Find out more about what is happening in the city during National Hate Crime Awareness Week” with a link to the Leeds City Council website.

While there was no criticism over the content of the post, a number of social media users pointed to the irony of the message’s timing. Just last week Azeem Rafiq published a statement putting pages-worth of questions to Yorkshire in response to the county’s statement on their investigation into alleged racism at the club.

In August 2020, Rafiq outlined his experiences of racism at Yorkshire in an interview with Wisden.com. When the allegations were put to Yorkshire, the club chose not to comment on their former white-ball captain’s claims. Only after a subsequent interview with ESPNcricinfo, in which Rafiq revealed that he was on the brink of suicide during his time with the county, did Yorkshire promise to investigate his claims.

In September 2021, 13 months on from Rafiq’s initial interview with Wisden.com, Yorkshire released a statement summarising the findings of the investigation in which they admitted that Rafiq was the subject to racial abuse at his time in the club – they also refused to fully publish the report. Several of Rafiq’s allegations were upheld. These included:

– Prior to 2010 the panel found that there were three separate incidents of racist language being used by former players which were found to be harassment on the grounds of race.

– Before 2012 a former coach regularly used racist language.

– During his second spell at Yorkshire between 2016 and 2018 there were jokes made around religion which made individuals uncomfortable about their religious practices.

– During his second spell at the club, a former player made references to Rafiq’s weight and fitness that amounted to bullying.

– In August 2018, when Rafiq raised concerns of racism there was a failure by the club to follow its own policy or investigate these allegations.

A statement from a spokesperson representing Rafiq questioned the transparency of the investigation, highlighted that without Rafiq receiving the full report he would be unable to point out any possible inaccuracies and disputed Yorkshire’s claim that his pair of releases from the club were entirely due to cricketing reasons. Yorkshire are yet to publicly respond to the questions put forward by Rafiq. BBC Sport today reported that Rafiq recently received a “heavily redacted” copy of the investigation.

It is with that context that Yorkshire’s tweet was the subject of scrutiny, with many users calling for the county to release the report. The most ‘liked’ reply to the tweet was a comment that read: “This is insanely ill-advised.”

The post received a response from Rafiq himself.

James Buttler, a journalist behind The Cricket Badger Podcast and social media account who interviewed Rafiq last year, tweeted: “Maybe get your own house in order first eh? It’s been challenged. It’s been reported three years ago. Release the report. Actions speak louder than PR stunts.”

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