Azeem Rafiq racism case: Roger Hutton resigns as Yorkshire chairman

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Azeem Rafiq, a former England youth captain, captained Yorkshire in a Twenty20 fixture 2012

Roger Hutton, Yorkshire chairman, has resigned due to the club's reaction to Azeem Rafiq's racism.

Hutton, who was under increasing pressure to resign, "apologised unreservedly to Rafiq, aged 30,

He stated that the club should have recognized the serious racism allegations at the time.

Hutton said that he had been in Yorkshire and "experienced a culture refusing to accept change or challenge".

He also criticized the England and Wales Cricket Board, claiming that the governing body had "declined help".

Hutton was due to be asked to resign at an emergency board meeting, where he resigned. Hutton said that "some" of the non-executive board members had resigned.

After an investigation revealed Rafiq had been the victim of racism harassment and bullying, the club said it would not take any disciplinary action.

The ECB suspended Yorkshire's hosting of England matches on Thursday.

According to the ECB, Yorkshire's handling was "clear" and "will not be tolerated". This is causing serious damage for the game's reputation.

Hutton stated that he immediately contacted the ECB after being made aware of Rafiq’s allegations. However, there was a "reluctance" to act.

We have reached out to the ECB for comments.

Hutton urges board members to resign

Hutton stated in a statement that he would like to apologize unreservedly for his actions towards Azeem.

"It is a pity that we couldn't persuade the board members to recognize the gravity of the situation, and show compassion and contrition.

"The board members and the senior management of the club have been unwilling to apologize and accept that there was racism, and instead look forward.

"As chairman, I am responsible for not persuading them to take the appropriate and timely actions."

"This frustration was shared by all non-executive board members, some of which have now resigned."

Hutton called for all the members of the executive board to resign in order "to make room for a new path for my club, which I love so much".

Hutton spoke out about the ECB and said that he was disappointed when the MPs refused to question him. Rafiq, senior Yorkshire officials, and Hutton will also be questioned on 16 November.

"It's a matter for record that I have repeatedly expressed my frustration at ECB’s reluctance of action."

Hutton, a Yorkshire-based lawyer and lifelong Yorkshire fan, assumed the role in April 2020. He said that he had never met Azeem and wasn't at the club during his employment.

Julian Knight MP, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, stated that he hoped that the ECB sanctions would be "a short, sharp shock to bring about the club's awakening".

He said, "Like us all, I imagine that the members of Yorkshire County Cricket Club would be asking why the board is still there."

Many companies have severed all ties to Yorkshire, including kit maker Nike, primary sponsor Emerald Publishing, and Yorkshire Tea.

Rafiq report timeline

2 September 2020: After an interview with Wisden, ESPN Cricinfo published an article with Rafiq. In it, he claimed that he was close to suicide because of "institutional racism" at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

3 September 2020: Yorkshire says they have opened a formal investigation into Rafiq's claims. Chairman Roger Hutton also stated that the club would conduct a "wider review of their policies and culture."

5 September 2020: Yorkshire requests an independent law firm to investigate allegations of racism against Rafiq's club.

13 November 2020: Rafiq stated that he hopes to effect "meaningful changes" after he made his first statement in response to the inquiry.

15 December 2020: Rafiq files an action against Yorkshire alleging direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the basis of race.

2 February 2021: Yorkshire threatens a lifetime ban to anyone who makes threats against Rafiq, his family or legal team. This threat was made after ESPN Cricinfo shows them messages Rafiq sent.

17 June 2021: Rafiq and Yorkshire fail to reach an agreement in a case before the employment tribunal. His racism accusations remain under investigation.

16 August 2021: Yorkshire receives the results of an independent investigation into racism allegations and two days later the England and Wales Cricket Board asks for a copy.

19 August 2021: Yorkshire, which has yet to release the results of the report, admits Rafiq was the victim of inappropriate behavior and offers him "profound apologies".

Rafiq accuses Yorkshire, calling him "inappropriate behavior" and downplaying racism.

8 September 2021: Yorkshire MPs ask for the publication of the report's findings "immediately".

10 September 2021: Yorkshire releases the findings of the report. It states that Rafiq was the victim of racial harassment, bullying, and seven of the 43 allegations were supported by an independent panel.

Hutton stated that the report did not contain sufficient evidence to conclude Yorkshire County Cricket Club was institutionally racist.

Yorkshire published a summary of the panel report and its recommendations. However, the full report was not available for legal reasons.

8 October 2021: Yorkshire misses the deadline to submit the complete report to Rafiq, his legal team and the media after BBC Sport learns that an employment judge ordered the club's release in its entirety by Friday, October 8.

13 October 2021: Rafiq receives a heavily edited version. The ECB states that it is still awaiting its full report.

28 October 2021 Yorkshire: Yorkshire claims that it conducted its own internal investigation following the report's findings and concluded that there was no misconduct or action by its employees, players, or executives that would warrant disciplinary action.

2 November 2021: Hutton is summoned by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to appear before them to answer questions regarding Yorkshire's handling a Rafiq-related report.

After a leaked report containing details about the investigation into Rafiq's treatment, MP Knight, the chair of the DCMS select Committee, has called on the board at Yorkshire County Cricket Club for its resignation.

ESPN published a story saying that the report concluded that Rafiq had been referred to as "banter" when he used racially offensive terms towards him.

Knight's comments come after Javid, the health secretary, calls for "heads-to-roll" at Yorkshire. He said that if the ECB didn't take action, "it isn’t fit for purpose." In a tweet, Knight stated that Rafiq's term was "not banter"

The ECB announced that it would conduct a full investigation into the matter.

3 November 2021: Rafiq, together with other senior Yorkshire officials, is due to testify at the DCMS hearing on 16 November.

Many sponsors, including the primary sponsor Emerald Publishing, have ended their partnership with Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Gary Ballance, the current Yorkshire batter, releases a long statement in which he regrets using a racial slur to refer to Rafiq, his former team-mate.

4 November 2021: Yorkshire is banned from hosting international matches by the ECB board.

Nike announces the end of a four-year contract with kit supplier Nike. This was announced in March 2021.

Michael Vaughan, former captain of England, claims he was included in the report but "totally rejects any allegation about racism".

5 November 2021: Yorkshire Chairman Roger Hutton resigns following the club's response. He apologises to Rafiq "unreservedly".