Butcher slams "in denial" Yorkshire as MPs lead calls for action in Rafiq case

Former England captain Mark Butcher has joined the growing number of voices expressing their disbelief at Yorkshire CCC and their handling of the Azeem Rafiq racism case.

Rafiq, 30, levelled a string of accusations at his former employers over treatment he claims to have received while playing for the Tykes in two different spells between 2008 and 2018.

Yorkshire admitted the former England U19 skipper had been the subject of 'racial harassment and bullying' after publishing a summary of the report into alleged institutional racism at the club.

But they concluded no current employees would face any action, despite numerous senior figures remaining at Headingley from Rafiq's playing days.

It was revealed on Monday that a player at Yorkshire admitted to repeatedly calling Rafiq a 'P***', but the panel, tasked with making conclusions and recommendations from the report, assessed the comments were 'banter'.

Butcher told The Times: "It beggars belief. It’s not only completely tone deaf but totally in denial.”

Claudia Webbe, the independent MP for Leicester East, said she was appalled by the report – which is now under review by the ECB.

Webbe tabled a parliamentary motion in March regarding 'the failure to address the institutional racism in cricket', and has called on authorities to make the Rafiq case a 'turning point'.

“It reveals the endemic nature of racism in cricket,” she said. “The report by the investigation appears to normalise abusive discrimination and even blames Azeem for being a victim of racism. It is hard to believe.

"It is not ‘banter’ to reduce someone to tears by unacceptable comments about his colour or heritage.

“This is a wake-up call for cricket’s authorities and it must be a turning point for the game. If it requires action in terms of conditions being attached to the public funding that the game receives then that should be the way forward.”

Labour MP Kevin Brennan, who stands in Cardiff West and is a member of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, has called on the ECB to take their own action after Yorkshire's findings.

He said: "It is reported that the admitted use of a deeply offensive racial epithet by a player will go unpunished because Yorkshire Cricket Club regard it as ‘banter’.

"This matter has been mishandled by the club from the outset. A full ECB inquiry with access to all the facts is vital before cricket itself is further damaged by this debacle.”

If charged by the ECB, Yorkshire could face a range of sanctions from fines, points deductions, relegation or even being stripped of international fixtures scheduled to be held at Headingley.

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