New Yorkshire chairman praises Rafiq for speaking out on racism

New Yorkshire chairman praises Rafiq for speaking out on racism
Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford, director and new chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club attends a press conference in the East Stand Long Room at Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds, northern England on November 8, 2021. - Patel, who is a lawmaker in Britain's unelected House of Lords, said in a Yorkshire statement he was looking forward to "driving the change that is needed", amid a growing racism row involving former player Azeem Rafiq. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

On Monday, New Yorkshire chairman Kamlesh Patel praised Azeem Rafiq for speaking out against racist abuse as he revealed the county had settled an employment dispute with a former player.

Rafiq, who was born in Pakistan, has accused Yorkshire of failing to adequately deal with racist abuse he endured while playing for the county, claiming it drove him to suicidal ideation.
Rafiq filed a lawsuit against the club for direct discrimination in December of last year, after the county launched its own investigation into his allegations.

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Yorkshire apologized to the 30-year-old in September but later stated that no disciplinary action would be taken against any of their employees.

The club’s handling of its own investigation into Rafiq’s case was widely criticized, leading to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) suspending Yorkshire’s right to host international matches and sponsors, including Nike, withdrawing their support.

Following the resignation of his predecessor, Roger Hutton, Patel’s appointment was announced last week.
“Azeem is a whistleblower and should be commended for it; he should not have been put through this,” Patel said at a press conference at Yorkshire’s Headingley headquarters in Leeds.

“We’re sorry for what you and your family have gone through, as well as the way we handled it.

“I appreciate Azeem’s courage in speaking out.” Let me be clear: racism or discrimination in any form is not a joke.”

Patel’s use of the word “banter” came after the county’s report claimed to have used it to describe a racist term directed at Rafiq.

‘No restrictions’

The new chairman insisted that “no restrictions” on what former spinner Rafiq could say about his experiences had been imposed because “the settlement does not involve a non-disclosure agreement.”

Meanwhile, England cricketer Moeen Ali predicted that more cases of racism would emerge from within the sport, despite the fact that he had not personally experienced discrimination.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if more come out,” Moeen said via video call from the United Arab Emirates, where England plays New Zealand in a T20 World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

“What Azeem has done is not for personal gain,” the all-rounder, one of Britain’s most visible Asian athletes, added.

“I believe he wants to change, and that’s why he’s pushing for it.” Patel, a member of Britain’s unelected House of Lords, also stated that he was commissioning a specialist independent review of the county’s diversity and inclusion procedures.

He also condemned the death threats received by some club staff after details of Rafiq’s treatment became public, with Patel, who has spent much of his life in the Yorkshire city of Bradford, calling the county his “home.”

Patel went on to say that he would only make the report available to those with a “legal interest,” rather than making it public.

On November 16, a parliamentary committee is expected to hear testimony from Rafiq and several senior Yorkshire figures. Patel stated that he had spoken with Rafiq for six and a half hours since being appointed chairman on Friday.

“It was difficult and actually quite sad,” he said. “It was difficult for me, and it was extremely difficult for him.”

“You did have the thought, ‘Why would we do this to any human being?'”

Following the press conference, Rafiq issued a statement in which he stated that Patel had made a “good start,” but he reiterated his call for Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon to resign.

“They have consistently refused to accept responsibility for what occurred on their watch and must be removed,” Rafiq said.

“I implore them to do the right thing and resign in order to make way for those who will do what is required for the club’s future.”

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