Vaughan denies accusation in Azeem Rafiq's racism investigation report

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05 Nov 2021 | 08:49 AM
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Vaughan denies accusation in Azeem Rafiq's racism investigation report

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan has denied accusation after he was named in Azeem Rafiq's racism investigation report

 Former England captain Michael Vaughan has revealed that he has been accused of racist behaviour by former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq, an allegation that he "completely and categorically" denied while vowing to "fight" to his clear his name.

In a column for 'Daily Telegraph', Vaughan admitted that he was the former player implicated in the investigation into Rafiq's allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire.

Vaughan, who represented the county from 1991 until his retirement in 2009, said Yorkshire's Azeem Rafiq report stated that he told a group of Asian players, including Rafiq: "Too many of you lot, we need to do something about it."

The alleged incident occurred as Yorkshire were taking the field during a match against Nottinghamshire in 2009, Rafiq's maiden season as a professional.

"I completely and categorically deny that I ever said those words. I have nothing to hide. The 'you lot' comment never happened," he wrote in the column.

"Anyone trying to recollect words said 10 years ago will be fallible but I am adamant those words were not used. If Rafiq believes something was said at the time to upset him then that is what he believes."

The 2005 Ashes-winning captain said he "will fight to the end" to prove his innocence.

"It is difficult to comment on that except to say it hurts me hugely to think I potentially affected someone. I take it as the most serious allegation ever put in front of me and I will fight to the end to prove I am not that person."

Vaughan said he was approached 11 years after the alleged incident, in December 2020, to speak to the panel tasked with investigating Rafiq's claims of institutional racism at the club.

"I responded to the panel by saying I was gobsmacked It was 11 years after the alleged event. Nothing at all was raised or said at the time of the game in question, or at any stage over the next 11 years until the night before I was asked to speak to the inquiry.

"This hit me very hard. It was like being struck over the head with a brick. I have been involved in cricket for 30 years and never once been accused of any remotely similar incident or disciplinary offence as a player or commentator."

The England and Wales Cricket Board on Thursday banned Yorkshire county from hosting international matches for failing to act on former player Azeem Rafiq's racial abuse charges, which were proved to be true in an independent inquiry, calling the club's approach "abhorrent".

The ECB took the decision a day after Yorkshire player Gary Ballance admitted using a racial slur against his ex-teammate Rafiq.

Vaughan said as a lover of cricket and Yorkshire, it has been difficult for him to hear about the painful experiences Rafiq endured during his time at the club.

"At an individual level, it is clear that Azeem has endured a lot. It is not only right but essential that his experiences and his perspective are heard. There are unquestionably lessons to be learned.

The ECB also banned Ballance from England selection for an indefinite period. Ballance has accepted his guilt of being responsible for some of the offensive and derogatory terms that Rafiq revealed he was subjected to during his time playing for the county in northern England.

Vaughan said Yorkshire had dealt with the racism issue "terribly" and the club will be honest enough to admit that.

"I played professional cricket for 18 years between 1991 and 2009. All players in that period are now looking back on things that were said and admit they would not say them now.

"I never heard racist abuse but Yorkshire was a hard dressing room. As a second team player we had to knock on the dressing room door before entering. If you had a big nose, were bald or carried a bit of weight they would be commented on.

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. Rafiq made 43 allegations relating to his time at Yorkshire, of which seven were upheld by an independent panel, which added there was "no question" he was subjected to racial harassment and bullying.

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