Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton has resigned in the fallout from former player Azeem Rafiqs racism allegations against the English cricket club, citing an unwillingness by the club to accept the claims and a refusal to apologise.
“Today I announce my resignation as chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, with immediate effect,” Hutton said on Friday.
“There has been a constant unwillingness from the executive members of the board and senior management at the club to apologise, and to accept that there was racism, and to look forward. For much of my time at the club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge.”
Hutton joined the Yorkshire board in 2020, almost two years after Rafiq ended his second stint at Headingley, and says he has never met the player.
On Thursday, Yorkshire was suspended from hosting international matches as punishment for its handling of the racism case that has shaken the sport.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) slammed the club for its “wholly unacceptable” response to the racism faced by Rafiq.
A number of Yorkshire’s sponsors have deserted the beleaguered club, and the ECB said the case “is causing serious damage to the reputation of the game”.
“The ECB find this matter abhorrent and against the spirit of cricket and its values,” the governing body said in a statement.
Yorkshire’s Headingley Stadium was scheduled to host England’s Test against New Zealand and a mens one-day international against South Africa in 2022, as well as an Ashes Test against Australia in 2023.
But the ECB said the club is “suspended from hosting international or major matches until it has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue.”
Yorkshire said last month that it would not take any disciplinary action against any of its employees, players or executives despite a report that found that Rafiq, one of its former captains, was the victim of racial harassment and bullying.
Rafiq, a former England under-19 captain, said in interviews last year that as a Muslim he was made to feel like an “outsider” during his time at Yorkshire from 2008-18 and that he was close to taking his own life.
A formal independent investigation was commissioned by Yorkshire into more than 40 allegations made by Rafiq, with seven of them upheld in a report released last month.
On Wednesday, former England cricketer Gary Ballance admitted using a racial slur against Rafiq when they were teammates at Yorkshire, but said that “this was a situation where best friends said offensive things to each other which, outside of that context, would be considered wholly inappropriate.”