Ex-England cricket captain Vaughan cleared of racism charge

Former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq went public in 2020, saying he had been the victim of racial harassment.

Former cricketer Michael Vaughan
Michael Vaughan is one of the most high-profile figures in English cricket [File: Paul Childs/Reuters]

Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has been cleared of making a racist comment in 2009 towards a group of teammates of South Asian ethnicity.

The scandal erupted when Azeem Rafiq, a former player at Yorkshire, went public in 2020, saying he had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying during two spells at English cricket’s most successful club from 2008 to 2018.

Vaughan, one of the most high-profile figures in English cricket, was alleged to have used the term “you lot” when referring to four players of South Asian ethnicity, including Rafiq.

A Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) report on Friday said it was “not satisfied on the balance of probabilities” that Vaughan spoke the words he was alleged to have used.

But it added that its findings “do not in any way undermine the wider assertions” made by Rafiq, who told lawmakers in November 2021 that English cricket was “institutionally racist”.

In its concluding remarks, the CDC report said: “This is not a case which necessitated a conclusion from the panel that anyone has lied or acted out of malice.”

In a statement posted on Twitter after the panel issued its report, Vaughn said it has been “both difficult and upsetting to hear about the painful experiences” that Rafiq has described over the past three years.

“The outcome of these CDC proceedings must not be allowed to detract from the core message that there can be no place for racism in the game of cricket, or in society generally,” the 48-year-old wrote.

Among the allegations made in the UK Parliament, Rafiq accused Vaughan of saying to him and other teammates of Asian ethnicity that there were “too many of you lot. We need to have a word about that.”

Vaughan was alleged to have made the comment on the sidelines of a Twenty20 match. He categorically denied the charge, which was issued by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

Vaughan said on Twitter that the past few years had been an “incredibly difficult period in my life” and the process “has brought me to the brink of falling out of love with cricket”.

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq
Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq testifying before parliament [File: PRU/AFP]

Yorkshire, a team in the north of England that is a record 33-time winner of the county championship, launched an investigation in 2020 after Rafiq said racism at the club had left him feeling suicidal.

The club later apologised that Rafiq had been the victim of “racial harassment and bullying”.

Seven of Rafiq’s 43 claims were upheld in a report commissioned by Yorkshire, but the full version of the report was not published and did not lead to any of the club’s hierarchy facing disciplinary action.

As a result, the ECB chose to issue disrepute charges against seven individuals, including Vaughan, with prior connections to Yorkshire Cricket Club. The club was also charged.

Vaughan was the only individual to appear in person at the CDC hearings in London, which began in early March.

Source: News Agencies