Yorkshire staff slammed club for apology to Azeem Rafiq over race row

Staff at Yorkshire CCC sent a scathing letter to the club's board for failing to stand up to Azeem Rafiq amid the racism scandal engulfing the Headingley side.

Yorkshire are enduring the worst crisis of their 158-year history after Rafiq's allegations saw a report into alleged institutional racism at the club find him to have been the victim of "racial harassment and bullying".

Despite Yorkshire announcing they were "pleased" to confirm no current employees would face any sanctions over the treatment of Rafiq, staff expressed their dismay that the club had apologised to the spin bowler.

The letter, sent on October 14, reveals the "extreme hurt" staff felt, report The Telegraph.

It read: "Staff who knew Azeem well felt that an initial apology to him and an acceptance that he was a victim was not the correct approach and misrepresented entirely what kind of individual he was whilst at the club."

The report revealed an ex-teammate of Rafiq's, since confirmed to be England international Gary Ballance, had repeatedly called him a "P***" – but a panel charged with making conclusions and recommendations passed the term off as "friendly banter".

Sponsors have since left Yorkshire in droves while the ECB, who are now in possession of the full report, have indefinitely stripped the county of international fixtures scheduled to take place at Headingley.

CEO Mark Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon are expected to leave in wake of the crisis, while head coach Andrew Gale has been suspended amid an investigation into a tweet in which he used an anti-semitic slur.

The letter sent by Yorkshire staff labelled Rafiq as "problematic" and referenced his "extremely hurtful one-man mission to bring down the club and with it, people of genuine integrity".

It adds: "The criticism aimed at and the subsequent pain felt by both our director of cricket and chief executive is not only misdirected but is also grossly unfair. We see no support from the board to protect these two."

Rafiq, a former England Under-19 captain, enjoyed some success on the field at Yorkshire, particularly in limited-overs cricket, where his performances saw him skipper the Tykes' T20 side.

But the letter criticises his displays, stating: "Azeem is a complex character. He had and demanded very significant and constant staff support whilst at the club. He became an under-performer on the field, he was problematic in the dressing room."

Staff also claimed a "strong rebuttal" of Rafiq's claims should have been given "at the outset", despite the fact seven of his accusations were proven in the report.

"The reputational damage that this is doing to the club and all the staff associated with it is deeply upsetting and its reflection on us as individuals, is of equal concern," they added.

"The allegations and subsequent external criticisms levelled at the club and individuals is having a profound effect on us all physically, emotionally and psychologically and could well impact on us in our respective professional fields in the future.

"We urge the board and the club to now support and represent its staff. Hopefully you will view this letter in the spirit that it has been written. We would also be more than willing to meet as a group if you felt that would be valuable."

The letter is believed to have been seen by Roger Hutton, former Yorkshire chairman who has resigned amid the ongoing scandal, and other members of the board. It is unclear how they responded.

Lord Patel, the club's new chairman who has promised "seismic change" at Headingley after settling the employment tribunal with Rafiq, confirmed the letter had been sent.

He told The Telegraph: "It is troubling for many reasons, and further evidence of the wider issues the club has faced.

“I have publicly stated that Azeem Rafiq is a whistleblower and should be treated as such. It is essential for our culture that we believe those who have suffered discrimination or abuse, and pledge to hear their experiences.

"It is also important to acknowledge that our poor handling of this issue includes communications with staff. Part of our duty of care towards them will be to talk to all at the club about their experiences to understand internal perspectives.

"We must be mindful of the toll the past 18 months has taken. There is clear and urgent need for seismic change at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, starting from within.

"We must get to the bottom of our culture and learn from our mistakes, and that means understanding the past.

"I have set out my vision, to make Yorkshire County Cricket Club a place for everyone, from all backgrounds, and become a club which people can trust to do the right thing."

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