Leeds MP Alex Sobel has revealed that he wrote to Yorkshire Managing Director Mark Arthur six weeks ago expressing concerns about the club’s handling of the Azeem Rafiq case and that he was frustrated at not getting any response.
The news comes a day after political pressure on the county escalated sharply, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid publicly declaring “heads should roll” in Yorkshire over their response to a report into the allegations of institutional racism of Rafiq and the parliamentary committee of the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sports called an evidence session on the case.
Sobel represents Leeds North West, the constituency that includes Headingley, the county seat, and he sent a formal letter to Arthur on September 22 describing his dissatisfaction with the situation.
Sobel questioned the club’s decision to release the findings of an independent report on the morning of September 10 – the day the Old Trafford test was canceled between England and India – and expressed his displeasure as to the name of a trainer who used racist language. had been redacted. He welcomed the group’s subsequent recommendations, but noted that Yorkshire had not proposed any timeframe for compliance.
The letter was sent privately at the time, but Sobel, who is still awaiting a response, has now released the document to the PA News Agency after noting recent developments – including a report from ESPNcricinfo that the ‘repeated use by one player of the word “P * **” was deemed “in the spirit of a friendly joke”.
Sobel, who saw a summary of the panel’s report, told PA: “They have not responded to a local MP who has the best interests of the club and Azeem at heart.
“This is a reflection of Yorkshire’s mismanagement in this regard. The club don’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation they find themselves in. Racism must always be treated with the utmost seriousness and challenged. The club had known the racist language for some time, but chose to play it down. “
In Sobel’s message to Arthur, who was approached for comment by PA, he wrote: “I was concerned about several aspects of how the summary was published. I was informed that Yorkshire had hardly notified Azeem of the publication of the statement and that the club had not offered to meet with him or his legal team to discuss its contents.
“I also received concerns about when the report was released, namely that it was released at the same time the cricket world was focused on the unprecedented cancellation of England’s fifth Test match with India. This for me, and for the many cricket fans who have written to me, shows that Yorkshire still does not face the issues that Azeem courageously raised.
Regarding the anonymous coach, whose use of racist and derogatory language towards Rafiq has been confirmed, he added: be excused because it was not a direct attack.
“It concerns me as well, because the name of the coach has been redacted from the summary, that every former coach now has these allegations hanging over their heads.”
Urging Yorkshire to make swift and decisive changes in light of the report, he continued: “However, the statement does not contain a timeline or commitment as to when the recommendations will be implemented.
“The club has long been the most successful county cricket in the country, if not the world. Now he must heed the words of this survey and make it the most inclusive, diverse and welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality, age, disability or His experience. “
PA understands that the DCMS committee hearing should take place in two weeks. Yorkshire President Roger Hutton has already been called to appear and it is understood that Rafiq and other board members – presumably Arthur – will also testify.
Parliamentary privilege means that heretofore unpublished details of Rafiq’s allegations, as well as any rebuttal, can be released without fear of legal retaliation.
Julian Knight, chairman of the committee, suggested Wednesday that Rafiq had been the victim of “victims’ blame” for his alleged use of the word “Zimbo” in reference to a player of Zimbabwean descent.
He told the Today Program: “There is a certain degree of victim blame in the leaked report, where they equate Rafiq using ‘Zim’ for Zimbabwean to be the same as the P word. It is not the same.
“The idea that they are using this to blame the victim or to excuse their actions is absolutely appalling.
“We want the leaders of Yorkshire County Cricket Club to come before us and we want to ask them how they can justify not taking action and why do they think those who have used this language at their club are fit to stay still at their club, and what are they going to do in the future to make sure Yorkshire gets a handle on this racism issue.