The Yorkshire County Cricket Club chairman Roger Hutton has resigned in the fallout from former player Azeem Rafiq’s racism allegations against the club, noting that the club’s culture had been stubborn.
“Today I announce my resignation as chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, with immediate effect,” Hutton said Friday.
“There has been a constant unwillingness from the executive members of the board and senior management at the club to apologize, and to accept that there was racism, and to look forward. For much of my time at the club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge.”
Hutton had joined the Yorkshire board in 2020, almost two years after Rafiq ended his second stint at Headingley, and says he has never met the player.
This comes a day after the England and Wales Cricket Board made their displeasure known about the club’s response to the racism Rafiq faced. The ECB also suspended the county from hosting international games and may consider sanctions as well.
The England men were expected to play New Zealand next at Headingley Stadium and an ODI against South Africa in 2022, as well as an Ashes test against Australia in 2023.
A number of Yorkshire’s sponsors have also deserted the beleaguered club, and the ECB said the case “is causing serious damage to the reputation of the game.”
“The ECB find this matter abhorrent and against the spirit of cricket and its values,” the governing body said in a statement.
Last month, Yorkshire said no disciplinary action would be taken against any of its employees, players or executives despite a report that found that former captain Rafiq faced racial harassment.
“During my time as chairman, I take responsibility for failing to persuade them to take appropriate and timely action,” Hutton said Friday. “This frustration has been shared by all of the non-executive members of the board, some of whom have also now resigned..”
Rafiq, a former England under-19 captain, had said in interviews last year that as a Muslim he was made to feel like an “outsider” during his time at Yorkshire from 2008-18 and that he was close to taking his own life.
A formal independent investigation was commissioned by Yorkshire into more than 40 allegations made by Rafiq, with seven of them upheld in a report released last month.
On Wednesday, former England cricketer Gary Ballance admitted using a racial slur against Rafiq when they were teammates at Yorkshire, but said that “this was a situation where best friends said offensive things to each other which, outside of that context, would be considered wholly inappropriate.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan revealed that he has been named in the club’s report but “totally denies any allegation of racism”.
Vaughan said he was alleged to have told Rafiq and two other Asian players as they walked onto the field together that there were “too many of you lot, we need to do something about it”. He denies making the comment. “It is clear that Azeem has endured a lot,” Vaughan wrote in a column for The Daily Telegraph.
“It is not only right but essential that his experiences and his perspective are heard. There are unquestionably lessons to be learned. Yorkshire have dealt with this terribly. It is a good cricket club and … I hope I can be part of the movement to rebrand the club and people will eventually look back on this time and say it changed for the better.”
(With Inputs from Reuters and AP)