Leeds Council: Yorkshire Cricket Club has behaved "appallingly" following racism row

A top Leeds city councillor has said Yorkshire County Cricket Club has behaved “appallingly” in relation to the recent racism scandal, and urged them to work to build back the public’s trust.

By Chris Young
Thursday, 11th November 2021, 4:45 am

There has been a huge backlash over claims of racism within the club, based at Headingley, after it emerged that a report into the issue described the use of a racial slur as “banter.”

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At a meeting of Leeds City Council yesterday, one councillor said it was “fundamentally wrong” that racism had been dismissed in such a way.

Coun Arif has described the behaviour of Yorkshire County Cricket Club as "appalling". Picture: Tony Johnson.

Coun Salma Arif (Lab), Executive Member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles, was responding to questions about how the authority viewed the revelations of recent weeks.

The controversy began when former player Azeem Rafiq opened up about racism he experienced while at the club.

The club’s subsequent handling of the claims have led to the resignation of former club chairman Roger Hutton, announcements that a number of sponsors have stepped back from the club, and the England Cricket Board suspending the club from holding any international matches.

Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford has since been appointed chair and director of the club.

At a meeting of Leeds City Council this afternoon, the Council’s Executive was asked what its reaction to the scandal at Yorkshire County Cricket club was.

Coun Arif said: “Yorkshire County Cricket Club is an integral part of Leeds, hosting international matches and helping increase participation in the game across the country.

“Cricket is a much loved game among the Pakistani, South Asian and Caribbean communities in Leeds.

“When younger I played cricket on the streets of Harehills, which might have led to a few broken windows.

“The events of the last two weeks have been disturbing for many, not just in our ethnic minority communities, but every cricket fan in this county.

“It is fundamentally wrong when racist terms are deemed good natured banter.

“Coming from a Pakistani heritage I can tell you that the word is a racial slur, based on aggression and violence and meant to be demeaning.

“I support the bravery of Azeem Rafiq in sharing what he has.

“The club have conducted themselves appallingly and it is clear things at the club need to change and must address the culture that allows incidents like this to happen.

“I hope we can collaborate with the club to help build public trust once again.

“The club is important to the city economy and we need to get to the place where everyone feels comfortable attending Headingley. It needs to be open to everyone, no matter what their background."

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