Interim coach Ryan Sidebottom apologises for suggesting Yorkshire need to ‘forget about’ racism scandal
Ryan Sidebottom has apologised for comments he made during an interview with Sky Sports News where he suggested that Yorkshire ought to “try and forget” about the racism scandal that has engulfed the club.
The former Yorkshire and England seamer was recently appointed as interim coach at the county alongside Steve Harmison after the entirety of the club’s coaching staff was let go in the wake of Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of racism, both personal and institutional, at the club.
Sidebottom spent the majority of his playing career at Yorkshire, including a spell between 2011 and 2017 which coincided with a number of the allegations Rafiq made against personnel at the club. There have not been any accusations of racism or racist comments made against Sidebottom.
Commenting on the state of affairs that he inherits at Yorkshire, Sidebottom told Sky Sports News: “’It’s been tough viewing, tough listening, seeing social media. It’s been very difficult for lots of reasons for a lot of people. Let’s try and forget about it. There’s no room for racism in any walk of life and hopefully now we can move forward, sort things out, do the right thing and get Yorkshire back firing on all cylinders. But it’s been a tough couple of months hasn’t it for Yorkshire and everyone at the club.”
His comments were criticised by many on social media, including by Rafiq himself. Rafiq tweeted in response to the video: “Let’s definitely not just “Forget it”. Learn from it and make things better. Wish it was that easy just to forget it and pretend nothing happened.”
Rafiq later implied that he had reached out to Sidebottom privately following the interview. On the evening the interview was published on Sky Sports’ social media accounts, Sidebottom issued a public apology.
He wrote: “I’m truly sorry for any offence caused earlier by my words on @skysportsnews @SkyCricket. We should never forget, we must learn. I never meant to say forget. My choice of words were wrong, and an honest mistake. Here’s what I meant:
“I disagree wholeheartedly with discrimination and fully support all investigations and actions surrounding any racial abuse at Yorkshire CCC. In my interview with Sky Sports News I used the word “forget”. This is not what I meant. I didn’t mean that the situation should be forgotten about, on the contrary, it must never be forgotten. It was a poor choice of words. It is crucial that the club, and sport as a whole, learns and adapts to create a truly inclusive environment for all, at all levels. I apologise for any offence caused. I am now focused on supporting the playing group at Yorkshire CCC on the pitch.”
Yorkshire are still currently barred from hosting international cricket this summer. It is understood that they have been given a deadline by the ECB to meet certain conditions in order to reinstate their international fixtures.