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‘I was saddened when they declined to help’ – Yorkshire chairman slams ECB after announcing resignation

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Roger Hutton has announced his resignation as chairman of Yorkshire and hit out at the ECB for not acting sooner over Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of racism.

In a statement, Hutton apologised to Rafiq and expressed his disappointment that legal restrictions have meant the report into the former Yorkshire off-spinner’s allegations has yet to be published.

Hutton, who joined the club’s board in April 2020, said: “I have never met Azeem and was not at the club during the period he was employed. I know however, that when someone makes claims as serious as his, they need to be investigated and changes need to be made. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Azeem.

“The club should have recognised at the time the serious allegations of racism. I am sorry that we could not persuade executive members of the board to recognise the gravity of the situation and show care and contrition.

“I remain disappointed that legal restrictions, including an ongoing employment tribunal, have prevented the investigation report from being published and look forward to the time that everyone can see its recommendations. I hope for it to be published as soon as possible.”

Rafiq first publicly revealed his experiences of racism at the club in an interview with Wisden.com in August 2020.

Hutton went on to criticise the inaction of the ECB after Rafiq made his allegations, and took aim at executive members of the Yorkshire board and senior management for their “constant unwillingness” to apologise and accept their was racism at the club.

“I want to be clear that 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,” said Hutton. “I was saddened when they declined to help as I felt it was a matter of great importance for the game as a whole. It is a matter of record that I have continually expressed my frustration at the ECB’s reluctance to act.

“There has been a constant unwillingness from the executive members of the board and senior management at the club to apologise and to accept racism and to look forward. For much of my time at the club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge.”

Hutton has called for, “executive members of the board to resign, to make way for a new path for the club I love so much”.

On Thursday, the ECB punished Yorkshire for its handling of Rafiq’s allegations, suspending the club from hosting international matches, “until it has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standard expected of an international venue, ECB member and first-class county”.

On Friday, an ECB spokesperson said: “Yorkshire CCC did reach out to us at the beginning of the investigation with a request that we partner with them on exploring Azeem’s allegations of racism and bullying against the club.

“Our role is to operate as a regulator across the entire game. We must act independently of any club investigations, should we ever be required to intervene as regulator – either during or after.

“The reason why our governance is structured in this manner, is perfectly demonstrated in the way that these issues have played out at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.”

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