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Sajid Javid says heads should roll at Yorkshire County Cricket Club following Azeem Rafiq ruling

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Sajid Javid weighed in today in the Yorkshire County Cricket Club racism row, insisting ‘P**i is no banter’ and urging ‘heads to roll’ over the scandal.

In a rare intervention for a senior minister, the health minister urged the ECB to take action against accusations made by cricketer Azeem Rafiq.

It comes after the Pakistan-born English cricketer claimed he experienced racism during his stint with the Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Despite the word ‘P**i’ being directed against Rafiq, an investigative panel accepted a senior player at the club of racism.

The inquiry panel did not accept that the ex England Under 19 captain had been offended by the other player’s comments, either at that time or at a later date.

As part of the committee’s findings, it also concluded that regular use of the racist slur was “banter” between the as-yet-unidentified star and Rafiq – a finding that has since sparked outrage.

As MPs prepare to criticize the club president over his handling of racism complaints, Javid has had his say.

On Twitter, the health secretary, whose parents are both from Pakistan, said: “P**i” is no joke. Heads must roll at Yorkshire CCC. If the ECB does not take action, it is not fit for purpose.”

In a rare intervention, the health minister urged the ECB to take action against accusations of cricket star Azeem Rafiq

It comes after Azeem Rafiq (pictured playing for Yorkshire in 2016) claimed he experienced racism during his stint with the Yorkshire County Cricket Club

It comes after Azeem Rafiq (pictured playing for Yorkshire in 2016) claimed he experienced racism during his stint with the Yorkshire County Cricket Club

Mr Javid’s comments come as the Yorkshire CCC is now facing a massive backlash, with commercial sponsors expressing concern over the racism scandal.

The Emerald publishing group, which has the naming rights at the club’s Headingley Stadium, in Leeds, told the Times it was “appalled” at the outcome of the review.

Meanwhile, Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton is now being challenged by MPs over the club’s handling of Rafiq’s racism complaints after being called by Parliament’s Digital, Media and Sport (DCMS).

It comes after ESPNcricinfo released details from a leaked report in an investigation into Rafiq’s claims.

According to the website, the panel’s report revealed how a senior player, who is still with the club, regularly used the ‘P**i’ slur when talking to Rafiq.

The player is also said to have admitted to telling other people ‘don’t talk to him (Rafiq), he’s a P**i’; asking ‘is that your uncle?’ when bearded Asian men were in sight; and saying in reference to corner shops – ‘does your father own those?’

But the report – that is passed on to the ECB for further investigation — acquitted the person of wrongdoing, as the comments were made in a ‘friendly, benign manner’.

ESPNcricinfo has not disclosed the senior player’s name. However, the name may be revealed when Mr Hutton appears before the DCMS committee.

The meeting will be the first time anyone from Yorkshire has been directly publicly questioned about the case.

Anything said during the meeting has parliamentary privileges meaning the person cannot be prosecuted for revealing the identity of the unnamed cricketer.

The report on institutional racism in Yorkshire ruled that the comments were 'friendly banter'

The report on institutional racism in Yorkshire ruled that the comments were ‘friendly banter’

Yorkshire has now sent the ECB a full copy of the report after twice missing deadlines to do so

Yorkshire has now sent the ECB a full copy of the report after twice missing deadlines to do so

Julian Knight, the select committee chairman, said in a statement: “This is extremely worrying and it is clear that the Yorkshire County Cricket Club has questions to answer.

“We have been monitoring developments around the club’s handling of Azeem Rafiq’s serious allegations.

“We want much more transparency from YCCC – it’s time for them to answer their critics. We plan to call the club president before the DCMS committee to provide a much more comprehensive explanation than we have had so far.”

It comes as former England captain Mark Butcher criticized the panel’s findings, saying: ‘It beggars believe’.

He added: “It’s not just completely tone-deaf, but completely in denial.”

It comes after the report found that, in the context of “chat between friends,” Rafiq might be expected to take such comments in the spirit in which they were intended.”

It is also reported that the panel found Rafiq’s reference to a teammate of Zimbabwean descent as “Zimbo from Zimbabwe” as a “racist, derogatory term” and said that if Rafiq were still in Yorkshire he would have faced disciplinary action.

On Monday, Yorkshire reiterated that they would not take any disciplinary action over Rafiq’s allegations.

“The club has conducted its own internal investigation which shows that no conduct or action has been taken by current employees, players or executives that warrants disciplinary action,” a club statement released to Sportsmail said.

“However, we recognize that we must work hard to restore the trust of those who feel let down.

Julian Knight, the select committee chairman, said in a statement:

Julian Knight, the select committee chairman, said in a statement: “This is extremely worrying and it is clear that the Yorkshire County Cricket Club has questions to answer.”

“The club has much to learn from the independent report and we are committed to incorporating the panel’s recommendations into our diversity and inclusion plans.”

Speaking about last Thursday’s announcement that no action would follow, a spokesperson for Rafiq said: “This is despite Yorkshire’s admission that Azeem has been the victim of racial harassment and bullying, and despite their admission they have failed to follow their own policies and accusations of racism as recently as 2018.

‘It is inconceivable that there are no current employees who should not have been disciplined. It’s time for board members – for once – to do the right thing and step down.’

The edited report, released on Sept. 10, stated that “the panel did not find Rafiq’s evidence entirely credible.

Rafiq and the player began to verbally attack each other in a friendly manner, and neither was malicious towards the other.”

Yorkshire said in a statement: “We recognize that we have to work hard to restore the confidence of those who feel let down.

“We are committed to incorporating the panel’s recommendations into our Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans.”

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