Yorkshire Cricket Club ruled that the racial slur p**i was just ‘banter’

Yorkshire Country Cricket Club. Editorial credit: JD Leeds / Shutterstock.com

Pressure is mounting on Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) after a leak revealed that their investigation into racism ruled the use of the slur p**i was “banter.”

Citing the YCCC report, a story published by ESPN says at least one player from the club admitted to regularly using racially offensive words towards former player Azeem Rafiq. However, it was used “in the spirit of friendly banter.”

The report, which has not been published in full, states that: “Rafiq might be expected to take such comments in the spirit in which they were intended (i.e. good natured banter between friends)… so it was not reasonable for Azeem to have been offended by [the other player] directing equally offensive or derogatory comments back at him in the same spirit of friendly banter.”

But the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, has called for “heads to roll.”

Javid tweeted: “Paki is not banter; heads should roll at Yorkshire CCC. If @ECB_cricket doesn’t take action it’s not fit for purpose.”

Julian Knight, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee (DCMS), tweeted: “Given the endemic racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, I struggle to think of any reason why that the board should remain in post. This is one of the most repellent and disturbing episodes in modern cricket history.”

Last week the club released a redacted internal report into racism allegations by Rafiq, in which it upheld some of his allegations. However, the club decided not to take any disciplinary action against the accused players and staff. The report was also sent to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to consider as part of their investigation.

Azeem Rafiq

An ECB spokesperson said: “Last week we received Yorkshire CCC’s report into the racism and bullying allegations Azeem Rafiq made against the club. We are conscious about the length of time that Azeem has waited for resolution and the toll that must be taking on his wellbeing and that of his family. We are sorry that, as a sport, this has not yet been resolved…

“We will conduct a full regulatory process that is fair to all parties, but also ensure this happens as quickly as possible. To achieve this, we have secured the services of a QC, along with other external investigatory support to upweight resource around our process. The ECB board has also reaffirmed its commitment to further additional resource, should the investigation require it.”

Meanwhile, the club’s chairman Roger Hutton is set to be called by the DCMS parliamentary select committee to answer questions regarding the handling of Rafiq’s investigation.

Julian Knight said: “This is extremely concerning and it’s clear that Yorkshire County Cricket Club has questions to answer. We have monitored developments around the club’s handling of the serious allegations made by Azeem Rafiq…

“We want to see much greater transparency from YCCC – it is time for them to answer their critics. We intend to call the chair of the club before the DCMS committee to give a much fuller explanation than we have had so far.”

Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for DCMS and MP for Mid Bedfordshire, tweeted: “Azeem Rafiq’s treatment after the racism he faced was disgusting, and the investigation that followed only makes it even worse. The ECB investigation must be swift and fully transparent. Racism must be confronted, and NEVER be written off as just banter.”

And Sayeeda Warsi, the peer and former Conservative party co-chair, tweeted: “Paki is not banter. Too many of us in too many walks of life have heard the ‘defence of banter’ for too long as an excuse for racism. For years my business & others supported @YorkshireCCC  – we need you to stop posturing & prevaricating & take responsibility for this.”

Pressure is also mounting on the club from the brands that sponsor Yorkshire CCC. It has already lost one of its main sponsors, Anchor Butter, which stated: “There is never a place or an excuse for racism. We have no further activity supporting YCCC.”

Similarly, sponsors like Emerald Publishing Group and Tetley’s Brewery are also reviewing their sponsorships in light of the club’s handling of the racism allegations.

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