Azeem Rafiq: I've lost faith in racism investigation at Yorkshire
SSN understands that the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) have been told the investigation is still "several weeks away" from publishing its findings despite Azeem Rafiq giving evidence in November; Yorks CCC have apologised for the investigation taking longer than expected
By Rob Jones, Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 06/05/21 3:50pm
Former Yorkshire all-rounder Azeem Rafiq says he’s "lost faith" in the independent investigation into his claims of alleged institutional racism at the club, saying the process is flawed and that key supporting witnesses have yet to be approached to give evidence.
Sky Sports News understands that the PCA have been told the investigation is still "several weeks away" from publishing its findings despite Rafiq giving his evidence back in November.
Rafiq made claims of racist language of South Asian players being called "elephant washers", being "ridiculed" for not drinking alcohol and a lack of Halal food for Muslims before he was released by the county in 2018, and despite an apparent lack of progress he has vowed to see the investigation through to its conclusion and deal with any potential outcomes.
"I've got no faith left whatsoever, I haven't even got a teeny bit of faith left, I just want them to finish it, publish it so I can decide what I need to do next," Rafiq told Sky Sports News.
"I'm pretty determined that people need to know what happened behind them closed doors and their wishy-washy statements aren't going to pass with me not one bit.
"I carried my son from the hospital to the graveyard and nothing anyone can do to me can put me in more pain than that, nothing at all and there's my fight, that's where I get my fight from.
"I've had some very difficult lows, I've tried to let people know what's going on, to keep myself together over the past six months I'm determined for people to find out what actually goes on and I'm determined for people to find out who plays a big part in these things."
After Rafiq made his claims last summer, he appeared to be supported by other former Yorkshire players and staff including West Indian bowler Tino Best and ex-Pakistan international Rana Naved-ul-Hasan who made similar allegations about their spells with the club.
But Rafiq believes several people who could provide integral information to the process have yet to be approached and that the overall investigation is not as independent as it should be.
"To hear recently that some of the main witnesses that came forward to support me haven't been spoken to I was like 'what actually is going on?'" said Rafiq.
"I think the way this investigation right from the offset, one being pushed into an investigation by the media and two the investigation's lack of independence in my opinion is an issue in itself really and it's something that needs to be looked at.
"I said to them in November my trust levels are really low I've been let down by people that should've been looking out for me for a long time but I'm going to give it one more chance. I didn't have to, I could've told the world what's happened and leave it at that but I wanted to give it one more chance. I thought they'd have kept me informed as to what's going on."
"A lot of the ways they've done stuff has been disrespectful and I want to see the communication they've had with the other side - if this is independent why do Yorkshire know what's been happening?
"No part of this whole situation right from the offset has led me to think it's independent at all, the chairman having some links to the firm that's been handed it leaves a doubt in your mind and it's really difficult to trust it and from my point of view I do think it's flawed.
"We've got statements and testimonies from people as far back as 30 years ago right up to this point and the people I'm alleging are still there, they're still right at the top there and that's where the accountability has got to lie right at the top."
Yorkshire CCC have apologised for the investigation taking "longer than we should have anticipated", and say it is imperative that the process is conducted thoroughly.
The club told Sky Sports News in a statement: "We have always taken the claims made by our former player Azeem Rafiq extremely seriously.
"In September last year we began an investigation, supported by an independent panel, to look into both Azeem's experiences and also to conduct a wider review into the club's policies and culture.
"We're very grateful to all of those witnesses who have given their time and energy in providing their testimonies to the investigation team. In recent weeks further witnesses have come forward and the team have been determined to hear their experiences and ensure their contributions are heard.
"It's been very important to the investigation team, the panel and the Club that this process be conducted sensitively and thoroughly. Whilst we hope to share the findings of the investigation and recommendations of the panel in the coming weeks we're sorry that this has taken longer than we should have anticipated."
Earlier this week on social media, Rafiq called for the PCA and ECB to "stand shoulder to shoulder" with him and says the PCA have offered support during the process.
But now he wants cricket's governing body and the association for players to show a clear desire to improve diversity and inclusion within the sport and rebuild trust he feels has been badly damaged over time.
"I think overall they need to do more. I think the PCA are going to be asking questions about the timeline. The ECB have been clear from the offset that as the regulators in the game they need to let Yorkshire do the process but they're there if or when it's all fudged and messed up the ECB will step in and look to see what needs to be done after that," said Rafiq.
"The trust is so broken that there needs to be genuine things happening so people like myself can believe in them again.
"You want to see a positive side to these commissions, these initiatives but let's tackle the real issue here and I think accountability sits right at the top, to be honest. I don't think anyone is going to believe them or any other institution or organisation anymore just with some pointless initiatives.
"At times they've had a bit of an excuse to sit on the side but I don't think you can sit on the side anymore, I think times have moved on and I seriously don't think you can sit on the side and watch it happen - there's a big test coming and whether they want the trust to be rebuilt or they're not interested."