Azeem Rafiq: Dozens use Yorkshire's new cricket racism hotline in first week

22 November 2021, 21:26

Azeem Rafiq's revelations have outraged cricket fans
Azeem Rafiq's revelations have outraged cricket fans. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Will Taylor

Dozens of people have contacted Yorkshire's new discrimination hotline in its first week after the club found itself centre stage in the cricket racism scandal.

The sport has been rocked by explosive revelations from the club's former bowler, Azeem Rafiq, who has recounted allegations of repeated racial harassment.

It sent shockwaves throughout the game, embroiling other clubs - including Essex - and even Rafiq himself, who had to apologise over antisemitic messages he exchanged in 2011.

Yorkshire set up a hotline which is open to anyone who wants to blow the whistle on discrimination they experienced with the club.

An independent investigation is due to consider any revelations that emerge from the process.

On Monday, the club said in a statement: "It has been confirmed that 36 individuals have emailed the hotline since it became operational on Monday 15 November.

Read more: 'I am ashamed': Cricketer Azeem Rafiq apologises over 2011 antisemitic messages

"All communications received by the hotline are being reviewed, and (Mohinderpal Sethi QC, who is leading the investigation)'s team will communicate directly with those who have made contact.

"The club is committed to transparency regarding the volume of contact to the hotline and will share updates regularly, initially weekly."

Rafiq said he suffered racial discrimination during his two stints at Yorkshire, which were between 2008 and 2018.

Read more: Rafiq tells LBC: 'If you apologise for racism you deserve a second chance'

The club was heavily criticised after ESPNCricinfo reported Yorkshire's investigation found a teammate's repeated use of the slur "P***", aimed at Rafiq, was "friendly banter".

Rafiq, 30, has settled an employment tribunal with the club but said he will back other people who suffer abuse.

He spoke in front of MPs on the Commons culture and sport committee, making new allegations against high profile cricketers including Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan and Alex Hales.

Lord Patel, the chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, said on Monday that it is essential that anyone who has seen or experienced racism and discrimination comes forward.

"Lasting and authentic change, particularly in the face of a complex and systemic issue, takes consideration and time, and cannot happen without the voices of those who have suffered," he said.

"Only through committing to listen, and to believe, those who have bravely shared their experiences - and those still to do so - can we truly understand the scale of the issue."