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Yorkshire face the heat in race abuse row

A British government minister has said “heads should roll” at Yorkshire amid mounting political pressure surrounding Azeem Rafiq’s long-running allegations of institutional racism at the club.

Rafiq’s disturbing account of his time at the club first came to light more than a year ago but recent developments commanded the attention of senior Westminster figures on Tuesday.

Health secretary Sajid Javid made a strongly-worded intervention and that Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton was summoned to face the parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee whose chairman, Julian Knight, tweeted: “Given the endemic racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, I struggle to think of any reason why that board should remain in post.”

Later, a Downing Street spokesperson representing Prime Minister Boris Johnson followed up Javid’s remarks by urging the England and Wales Cricket Board to “investigate this thoroughly and quickly” and “take action where needed”.

An independent report commissioned by Yorkshire previously resolved that Rafiq, who played for his home county in two stints between 2008 and 2018, had been a victim of “racial harassment and bullying”. Despite offering an apology, the club went on to state that none of its employees would face any further action.

ESPNcricinfo this week published alleged details of the report, including a senior player’s admission that he had repeatedly used the word “P***” in reference to Rafiq, which was subsequently deemed to be “in the spirit of friendly banter”.

Javid, the first British Pakistani to head a government department in 2014, posted on Twitter: “P***” is not banter. Heads should roll at Yorkshire CCC. If @ECB_cricket doesn’t take action it’s not fit for purpose.”

The closing words amount to a challenge directly aimed at the game’s governing body, which has only recently received a full copy of the Rafiq report as part of its own “thorough and fair” investigation.

The ECB apologised for the matter not being resolved and acknowledged the effect of that on the wellbeing on Rafiq and his family adding they had “secured the services of a QC” and intended to investigate “as quickly as possible”.

Yorkshire have been contacted for comment, while the man at the centre of the issue, Rafiq, tweeted he had been asking for the matter to be taken out of Yorkshire’s hand for more than a year adding: “No-one believed me, no-one listened everyone tried to protect themselves and left me all alone to fight. TIME FOR THE FULL TRUTH,” he wrote.

Yorkshire are also under pressure commercially. One of last season’s shirt sponsors announced it was ending its support while Emerald publishing, which has naming rights at Headingley Stadium, has described its “dismay” at recent reports and expects further action to be taken.

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