Yorkshire cricket chairman Roger Hutton resigns amid racism report fallout

Hutton said there had been a ‘constant unwillingness’ from senior executives at Yorkshire to apologise

Tom Kershaw
Friday 05 November 2021 11:54 GMT
FILE: Yorkshire Cricket Club suspended from hosting internationals

Roger Hutton, the chairman of Yorkshire, resigned with immediate effect on Friday morning over the club’s response to Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of racism.

Hutton, who had faced intense pressure to resign over the past week, admitted Yorkshire has “experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge” in a statement and “apologised unreservedly” to Rafiq.

Hutton’s statement preceded an emergency board meeting at Yorkshire this morning, with chief executive Mark Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon also under pressure to step down, while former England captain Michael Vaughan was further implicated in the scandal.

Vaughan, who represented Yorkshire from 1993–2009, revealed he was named in the racism report in a column in the Telegraph but categorically denied telling a group of Asian players, including Rafiq: “Too many of you lot, we need to do something about it.”

On Friday morning, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan subsequently told ESPN that he was standing next to Vaughan when he allegedly made the racist comment at Trent Bridge in 2009. The former Pakistan bowler said he was willing to give evidence to an enquiry and claimed that racist comments were a regular occurrence at the county club.

Hutton, who joined the board in 2020 - almost two years after Rafiq left Headingley - said there had been “a constant unwillingness from the executive members of the board and senior management at the club to apologise.”

Hutton was also critical of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), claiming the governing body had “declined to help”.

On Thursday, the ECB said Yorkshire’s response to the allegations had been “wholly unacceptable and is causing serious damage to the reputation of the game”, and stripped the club of their right to host international fixtures.

Hutton, however, claimed when he was first made aware of Rafiq’s allegations, he “immediately reached out” to the ECB but there was a “reluctance to act”.

In a statement, Hutton said: “I would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Azeem.

“I am sorry that we could not persuade executive members of the board to recognise the gravity of the situation and show care and contrition.

“There has been a constant unwillingness from the executive members of the board and senior management at the club to apologise and to accept [there was] racism and to look forward.

“During my time as chairman, I take responsibility for failing to persuade them to take appropriate and timely action.

“This frustration has been shared by all of the non-executive members of the board, some of whom have also now resigned.”

Yorkshire were met with a fierce reaction last week after concluding there had been “no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives that warrants disciplinary action”, despite admitting Rafiq had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying.

Details of the club’s report into the allegations were subsequently leaked to ESPN, containing graphic details of the abuse directed towards Rafiq, including the repeated use of the word “P***” by a senior player still at the club, subsequently revealed to be Gary Ballance.

In a lengthy statement, Ballance said he “deeply regrets some of the language I used in my younger years” but added that “at no time did I believe or understand that it had caused Rafa distress” and said he didn’t recall reducing Rafiq to tears.

Julian Knight MP, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, was among those to call on the executive board at Yorkshire to resign, while major sponsors Nike, Emerald Group, Tetley’s and Yorkshire Tea all ended their association with the club this week.

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