LONDON — Yorkshire has been fined and docked points in two formats of cricket over the club’s “extremely serious” misconduct in relation to the racism experienced by former player Azeem Rafiq.
The English club was fined 400,000 pounds ($515,00) on Friday — 300,000 pounds of which is suspended for two years — and lost 48 County Championship points and four in the T20 Blast from this season’s competitions by an independent Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) panel after admitting four charges.
Yorkshire released a statement accepting the sanctions. The punishment means Yorkshire drop from sixth to bottom of division two in the championship, all but ending its promotion chances, while the club goes from fifth to eighth in the North Group of the already-completed 2023 Blast, a competition where it failed to qualify for the knockout stages.
Rafiq initially spoke out in 2020 about the racism and bullying he experienced across two spells at the county, between 2008 and 2014 and between 2016 and 2018. He also gave harrowing testimony about his experiences to the Culture, Media and Sport parliamentary committee in November 2021.
“No one should have to experience what Azeem Rafiq went through in cricket, and we once again thank him for his courage in speaking out,” England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Richard Gould said.
The first charge Yorkshire admitted was the mishandling of its response to an independent report prompted by Rafiq’s allegations.
The second related to what the panel found to be the “deliberate” deletion of emails relevant to the ECB investigation into Yorkshire, the third to its handling of racism complaints more widely and the fourth to a failure to address the “systemic use” of racist and or discriminatory language over a prolonged period, set in the panel findings as being between 2004 and 2021.
“The overall misconduct in this case must be regarded as extremely serious within both the sporting and wider societal contexts,” the CDC panel’s written reasons confirming the sanctions said.
The panel recognized the “fragile” nature of the club’s finances, but said it would be an “affront” to those who had suffered as a consequence of the breaches Yorkshire had admitted if there was no financial penalty.
Yorkshire issued an apology to Rafiq in September 2021, accepting he had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying, but the following month the club said no individual would face disciplinary action over the report’s findings.
The club’s handling of the case led to widespread condemnation and saw Yorkshire lose sponsors as well as the ECB withdrawing its right to host lucrative international matches at Headingley until governance changes were made.
The panel and the ECB recognized the work done to make Yorkshire more inclusive, first by Kamlesh Patel during his time as chair between November 2021 and March of this year, and subsequently by the current leadership.
The panel gave “significant weight” to efforts to remedy past failings but said those changes did not mean sanctions should not be imposed. The panel ordered the 100,000 pounds to be paid in equal instalments on Jan. 1, March 1, June 1 and Sept. 1 next year.
Yorkshire accepted the sanctions but said in a statement: “We are disappointed to receive the points deductions which affects players and staff at the club, who were not responsible for the situation.”
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