Ex-Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves says no racism allegations were raised to him
Colin Graves insists no allegations of racism were ever raised to him during his time as Yorkshire chairman but that regrettable words may have been said as part of dressing-room “banter”.
The club have admitted four charges issued by the England and Wales Cricket Board in relation to their handling of allegations of racism and bullying made by former player Azeem Rafiq.
One of the charges the club have admitted is a failure to address a systemic use of racist and or discriminatory language over a prolonged period.
Graves said there had been “a lot of banter” during his time at the club but that no allegations were ever mentioned to him.
Graves, Yorkshire chairman between 2012 and 2015, told Sky Sports News: “I think there have been odd occasions where words have been said that people may regret afterwards.
“I don’t think it was done on a racist, savage basis. I think there was a lot of – I know people don’t like the word banter – but I think there could have been a lot of banter in there about it, and I know people don’t like that.
“But when you play cricket and you’re part of cricket teams, and you’re in cricket dressing rooms, that’s what happened in the past.
“But the world has changed, society has changed, it’s not acceptable. I understand that, I accept it, full stop.”
On the allegations of racism, Graves – who withdrew his application to return as Yorkshire chairman last week – added: “When I was chairman of the club, when some of these allegations were made, I can tell you now, nothing was brought up within the club.
“Nothing was ever brought up on the table about any racism allegations whatsoever.”
The ECB issued a statement saying it was “disappointed” by Graves’ comments, adding: “We must never again hear of accounts like Azeem Rafiq’s, where racist slurs are used as part of normalised everyday language.
“These events, along with many issues experienced by Azeem and others during their time at Yorkshire have been upheld more than once, including during proceedings overseen by the Cricket Discipline Commission.
“We vehemently disagree that this is ‘just banter’ and believe that any debate in that regard should stop immediately. Racism isn’t banter.
“Yorkshire is of huge importance to cricket in England and Wales with a deep history and an ability to inspire and connect all cricket fans. They are currently working hard to resolve their financial and cultural challenges and the club, and its new management, have our full support.”
A sanctions hearing regarding the charges Yorkshire have admitted is scheduled for June 27.
Six former Yorkshire players were sanctioned last month over the use of racist and or discriminatory language. A seventh – former England captain Michael Vaughan – was cleared of using such language.
In response to Graves’ comments, a statement from the board of Yorkshire County Cricket Club read: “We note Colin’s position that he was not aware of, or witness to, any racism at Yorkshire and that there existed only “banter”.
“As a board, we maintain that we needed to accept and take responsibility for the cultural issues which allowed racist and discriminatory behaviour to go unchallenged, and we have accepted four amended charges from the Cricket Discipline Commission.
“We remain entirely focused on securing the short and long-term future of Yorkshire County Cricket Club and making it a welcoming club for everyone.”