LEEDS: English county Yorkshire have issued an apology to former player Azeem Rafiq following an independent investigation into claims of institutional racism found he was a ‘victim of inappropriate behaviour’, the club said on Thursday.

The investigation was initiated in September last year to look into allegations made by the off-spinner stretching back to 2008.

Rafiq, a player of Pakistani descent and a former captain of the England Under-19 side, last year said that he was made to feel like an ‘outsider’ at Yorkshire. He filed a legal complaint in December 2020 claiming to have suffered direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race.

The 30-year-old previously stated the severe mental health issues he suffered as a result of his treatment by the club included depression and contemplating suicide.

“Many of the allegations were not upheld... it is right, however, to acknowledge from the outset that several of the allegations made by Azeem were upheld and that sadly, historically, Azeem was the victim of inappropriate behaviour,” Yorkshire said in a statement. “This is clearly unacceptable. We would like to express our profound apologies for this.”

Rafiq, however, took to Twitter to express his disappointment at the findings, calling for Yorkshire to clearly spell out that he was the subject of racist abuse.

“‘Inappropriate behaviour’, are you sure about that @YorkshireCCC? You carry on playing with your words & fudging this best way possible... It’s not going away,” he wrote.

Rafiq on Wednesday had called on the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the politicians to intervene after Yorkshire had delayed the publication of the report.

Rafiq played for Yorkshire from 2008 to 2018 and became their youngest-ever captain after he led the county in a Twenty20 game against Durham in 2012.

Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton admitted the club should have done more to support the player, who had two spells at the county between 2008 and 2014 and then 2016 to 2018.

“I would like to acknowledge Azeem’s courage in raising these issues, and his participation in the investigation, which I understand must have been very difficult,” Hutton said in a statement. “I would also like to express my sincere apology to him for certain failings by the club, which have been highlighted by the panel. He has very obviously experienced some difficult and distressing times during the time since 2008 and the club could, and should, have supported him better.”

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2021

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