Yorkshire County Cricket Club said Friday they accepted that former player Azeem Rafiq was the victim of racial harassment and bullying during his first spell with the side.
Last year Rafiq made serious allegations about his experiences at the club and Yorkshire appointed lawyers to launch an investigation with an independent panel also put in place to oversee it.
A summary of the panel’s findings and recommendations was published on Friday.
“There is no question that Azeem Rafiq, during his first spell as a player at YCCC, was the victim of racial harassment,” chairman Roger Hutton said in a statement.
“He was also subsequently the victim of bullying. On behalf of all at YCCC, I wish to extend my sincere, profound and unreserved apologies to Azeem and to his family.”
Yorkshire said Rafiq had made more than 40 allegations, seven of which were upheld in the report.
Some were not upheld on the grounds there was “insufficient evidence”, Hutton said.
The report found Rafiq, whose first spell at Yorkshire was between 2008 and 2014, had not been provided with halal food at matches, something that has now been rectified.
It also found there were three instances of racist language being used prior to 2010 and said in 2012 a former coach “regularly used” racist language.
But it found there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the club was institutionally racist.
It also found that all decisions made concerning 30-year-old Rafiq’s selection and ultimate release from the club were entirely based on cricketing reasons.
Hutton said it was “a matter of sincere regret” that the work of so many to make the club inclusive was at risk of being overshadowed by “the behaviour and remarks of a few people”.
Rafiq — who returned to play for Yorkshire for a second spell from 2016-18 — later Friday reiterated his claim there was an “institutional problem” at the club.
A spokesman for the former first-class player said: “What is clear is that Yorkshire County Cricket Club admits racism and bullying has taken place on many occasions, yet won’t accept the obvious — that this is an institutional problem.”
England and Wales Cricket Board chair Ian Watmore condemned Rafiq’s treatment and vowed the governing body would take further action if necessary.
“No one should have to experience racism or discrimination in cricket, and it is very concerning that the independent panel has upheld a number of allegations and concluded that historically Azeem Rafiq was the victim of racial harassment and of bullying during his time at Yorkshire County Cricket Club,” Watmore said.
“It is clear that the game owes him an apology and we are happy to offer that apology to him. There is simply no place for racism in cricket, and what Azeem experienced was unacceptable.
“The ECB has only seen the statement and summary report for the first time today, so we will now examine the contents in detail to decide what further action is required.”