Yorkshire: Another ex-academy player details alleged racial abuse at the club

Tabassum Bhatti stated that racist comments were "fairly common" in Yorkshire.
BBC Sport has been told by another ex-player from the Yorkshire academy that he was subject to alleged racism by his team-mates as a 14 year-old.

Tabassum Bhatti claims that players urinated on him, desecrated the prayer mat of another Muslim player and used racist language to attack his Pakistani heritage.

Bhatti, then 14, signed for Yorkshire in 1998.

"Something must be done. He said, "Enough is enough."

Lord Patel, the new chairman of the club, stated that he was open to hearing from anyone who has been subject to racism, discrimination, or abuse at the cricket club. He also encouraged others to speak up and share their stories.

"We are aware of a variety of claims made by individuals regarding their media experiences since yesterday's speech. These allegations should be investigated thoroughly.

"I have announced that an independent whistleblowing hotline would be established as soon as possible to provide a safe place for people to make disclosures.

"Once it's operational - I have requested this by the end this week – this will be the first step in a dedicated process to receive all allegations and concerns and respond immediately to them.

"We would like to hear from anyone who has suffered any issues. These will be carefully reviewed and treated with diligence."

The England and Wales Cricket Board stated that racism is not allowed in cricket or in society. The Board was clear that the way Azeem Rafiq handled issues at Yorkshire County Cricket Club was unacceptable and that all cricket should work together to eliminate discrimination.

"While there has been a lot of work done, we are clear that more needs to be done to make cricket an inclusive and welcoming sport."

Bhatti, 37 years old, is the latest ex player to claim he was racially abused by the club.

Azeem Rafiq, a former senior player, was the victim of "racial harassment & bullying", according to an investigation. Yorkshire however responded by saying that it will not discipline anyone.

Rafiq described his Yorkshire experiences, which led him to take his own life in September 2020.

Yorkshire published its summary of the report in September 2021, one year after the allegations were made public by the ex-player. It then stated that no discipline would be taken.

The investigation was widely condemned after it found that Rafiq was frequently referred to as a racist in Pakistani language while at the club. It concluded that it was friendly and good-natured banter.

Chairman Roger Hutton quit last Friday. Lord Patel assumed control on Monday. He apologised to Rafiq, and praised his "bravery" in whistleblower work.

Ex-player at the academy, Irfan Amjad, claimed that he was racially abusing a staff member as a 16-year-old. Rana Naved-ul-Hasan also said that he was subject to racial abuses by a member.

Yorkshire announced Tuesday that Andrew Gale, head coach of the Yorkshire Cricket Club, was suspended in an investigation into a 2010 tweet. Martyn Moxon, director of cricket, was also absent due to stress-related illness.

"It was like a joke for them"

Bhatti claims that racist comments were "repeated" at the club, as players "made fun my appearance; skin color".

He said that while the racial slur directed towards his Pakistani heritage wasn't spoken to his face, he could hear players talking about him, and a black player as well.

Bhatti recalled an incident that took place in a hotel room during an away match. I was talking to someone on the phone and they pointed out that there were other players in the hotel who wanted to urinate on me.

"I dropped the phone from my hand, and then dropped down two to three stories. They did go and search for the phone but they did urinate on my head from the window above.

Bhatti claims he knew the names of the players when they visited his bedroom afterwards. He added: "I did not mention it to coach at that time. He said 'no, don't fret about it, I will deal with it'.

According to the 37-year old, he heard conversations between players about desecration of another Muslim player's prayer rug. He added that this was a joke for them.

Bhatti said that hearing about Rafiq's story has motivated him to speak out and believes it is time for "change" with Lord Patel's appointment.

He said that he was between 14 and 15 years old in my case. It took me a while to get up the courage, so I didn't tell my family.

"Lord Patel is a man with morals, I believe he's one of the best. He's not only a man who wants to make a difference, but he's also a member of the community. However, I feel that it's a limitation on the club's damage," he said.

"I believe that change is absolutely necessary and it must come from the top - the ECB up. It's not a Yorkshire problem, it's happening all over the country.

The UK government stated Tuesday that it is ready to "step in", if Yorkshire or the ECB fail to take "real action" after the Rafiq Racism scandal.

Additional details will be revealed at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport hearing, 16 November. This hearing has parliamentary privilege, which means that those appearing can speak freely without fear of being sued for libel.

Bhatti stated, "We must identify who is responsible at the club, who has been involved, and what changes are needed."

"We have known for years that the club is racist and biased against ethnic minorities players. This is not a secret for us.

"Hopefully, the select committee will be able to identify and bring down Yorkshire."