By Shanine Bruder
Senior cricket correspondent George Dobell believes that within Yorkshire cricket there is a lack of accountability and responsibility when addressing allegations of racism.
Following allegations of institutional racism made by ex-professional cricketer Azeem Rafiq, George told an audience at Leeds Trinity University that he had received around 25 calls from past players and coaches who have received similar treatment during their time at the club.
As more individuals start to come forward, George believes that there isn’t a shortage of evidence of racism surrounding Yorkshire cricket and as a result those involved need to be held accountable.
He said: ‘’So many of the people involved are terrifically proud racists.’’
According to him, Yorkshire CCC were shamed into action and as a result had to call a report to avoid public scrutiny.
The findings of the report released by Yorkshire said Rafiq was the ‘’victim of racial harassment and bullying’’, with 43 allegations upheld, although the club could not release the full statement for legal reasons.
Despite allegations being upheld, Yorkshire said there had been insufficient evidence to conclude the club were institutionally racist and as a result no-one would face disciplinary action following the report.
But the story gained wider traction when a leak from the report was published by George dismissing the use of racist language towards Azeem as ‘banter’.
According to George, Azeem’s story wouldn’t have made it where it has if it wasn’t for leaks and information, as Yorkshire were “making excuses” and using Azeem’s ‘poor behaviour’ as a defence.
Speaking as part of Journalism and Media Week, he said: ‘’I’ve been very lucky to receive information, or leaks should I say from all sides, so without good people within Yorkshire cricket club leaking the information, we would not have got to this stage.
‘’Equally people at the ECB have been very helpful, so it’s not simply Yorkshire v Azeem, or the whole of Yorkshire is racist, of course it isn’t.’’
When talking about finding a way forward, George decided it was important to make ‘’the whole saga’’ political.
He said: ‘’I started to go to politicians and say ‘what are you going to do?’’’
On November 9, speaking in the House of Commons sports and culture minister Chris Phillip referred to ‘’a culture that’s locked in the past’’ and that it was ‘’unacceptable’’ that no one had faced disciplinary action following the report.
Also addressing the situation, England captain and senior player at Yorkshire Joe Root posted a statement on Twitter in which he says, ‘’There is no debate about racism, no one side or the other. It is simply intolerable.’’
However, George believes that Joe Root has a responsibility to use his platform and his voice to do more.
At a press conference announcing his appointment as chairman of Yorkshire, Kamlesh Patel has apologised to Azeem and spoke of righting the wrongs of the past.
He said: ‘’The longer this goes on, the more damage it causes for all of us. I’m going to be working night and day to get the correct processes in place.’’