Yorkshire racism report ruled Azeem Rafiq being called ‘P**i’ was ‘banter’

Yorkshire racism report ruled Azeem Rafiq being called ‘P**i’ was ‘banter’



The panel said it “was not reasonable for Azeem to have been offended”

At least one Yorkshire player admitted to regularly using the term ‘P**i’ when talking to Azeem Rafiq, according to the report into racism at the club. But he was cleared of wrongdoing on the basis that it was perceived as, what the report says was, friendly, good-natured “banter” between the two players.

The player also admitted to telling other people “don’t talk to him [Rafiq], he’s a P**i”, asking “is that your uncle?” when they saw bearded Asian men and saying “does your dad own those?” in reference to corner shops.

Despite admitting recalling that Rafiq broke down in tears at one point, the player insisted he had no idea he was causing offence and would have stopped if Rafiq had asked.

The individual concerned, who ESPNcricinfo have chosen not to name, is a current senior player at the club.

While the investigating team (the lawyers who were charged with gathering evidence for the report) found such comments to be “capable of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment…” and accepted Rafiq’s “evidence that he was offended, degraded or humiliated and that this amounted to harassment under the Equality Act and the Club’s Equal Opportunities policy”, the panel (who were charged with making conclusions and recommendations and which included a non-executive member of the Yorkshire board) disagreed.

Their conclusions state “The Panel does not accept that Azeem was offended by [the other player’s] comments, either at the time they were made or subsequently.”

They go on to say that, in the context of “banter between friends” Rafiq might be “expected to take such comments in the spirit in which they were intended (i.e. good natured banter between friends)… [so] it was not reasonable for Azeem to have been offended by [the other player] directing equally offensive or derogatory comments back at him in the same spirit of friendly banter.”

Indeed, the panel accuses Rafiq of using “offensive, racially derogatory comments” when referring to a player of Zimbabwean heritage as “Zimbo from Zimbabwe”. The panel viewed this as “a racist, derogatory term” and recommends that, were Rafiq still a Yorkshire player, he should face disciplinary action for using it.

The revelation, which comes days after Yorkshire announced that none of their players, coaches or executives would face disciplinary action as a result of the investigation, may increase doubts over the process and the report that has produced. In particular, equating the terms ‘P**i’, which is a long-established derogatory term with a history of racist usage, and ‘Zimbo’, which is generally held to be an abbreviation akin to Aussie or Kiwi without pejorative association, is likely to raise eyebrows.

The ECB, who have been sent Yorkshire’s report in recent days after several month’s delay, are currently reviewing the information.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo


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