The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has brought charges against Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) and a number of individuals in relation to allegations of widespread racist behavior at the club over the last 15 years.
The accused have not been named and could end up being either fined by the ECB or banned from professional cricket in England for a period of time.
This is the latest development in a story that first came to the mass public consciousness in September 2020 when former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq said in a media interview that racial discrimination during his time at the club (2008-18) had, at times, left him suicidal.
This led to Yorkshire opening up an internal investigation into the matter, during the first half of 2021, the shoddy handling of which (it was never published and no individuals were charged as a result) sparked widespread criticism and furor and prompted the ECB to open its own investigation.
It also led to a televised governmental committee hearing in November last year during which Rafiq accused multiple individuals associated with YCCC of racist and prejudicial acts and the club’s former chair Roger Hutton admitted that he would have to characterize the environment there as “institutionally racist.”
The ECB has now said that the charges relate to alleged breaches of the following directive: “Conduct which is improper or which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket or any cricketer into disrepute.”
The body has said that the conduct for which these individuals and the club have been charged is also seen to be in breach of the ECB anti-discrimination code.
The ECB expects to hold these hearings in September or October and has said that the outcome of each case will be publicized once a decision is reached.
It has said that a “thorough and complex” examination of all accusations had taken place to lay the foundations for these charges.
Yorkshire, which lost most of its commercial partners in November over the issue, has responded with a statement saying that the “allegations relate to charges as far back as 2004 up until 2021.”
It adds: “The club will need the cooperation of those in position during this time in order to fully consider and respond to the matters raised.”
Not only did YCCC lose a majority of its brand partners as a result of last November’s governmental hearing but it was also banned from hosting international fixtures at its Headingley stadium in Leeds – an integral component of its revenue stream – until the ECB could declare itself satisfied that progress in this sector had been made.
This led to mass change at the club’s senior executive level. Both Hutton and the YCCC chief executive Mark Arthur stepped down from their roles, and Lord Kamlesh Patel was brought in as a new chair (whereupon 16 other members of staff left the club with immediate effect).
In late March, the YCCC membership voted through the adoption of a set of measures that the ECB had said was mandatory for the restoration of the club’s international match-hosting status.
Overall, the ECB has assessed that Yorkshire is now able to show a demonstrable commitment to building a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion, provide evidence that it is adopting a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination, and commit to identifying and tackling historic cases of discrimination.
Yorkshire has also made several longer-term commitments, including the appointment of a new board following the departure of almost all the previous executive team after the made by Rafiq and subsequent evidence given at a government inquiry.
Headingley is now once again scheduled to play host to England’s third test against New Zealand later this month, as well as to a one-day international against South Africa in July.