Yorkshire to hand lifetime ban if anyone found making threats to Azeem Rafiq

Yorkshire have promised to ban the perpetrators for a lifetime if anyone found to have made threats against Azeem Rafiq or his family and legal team.

The spinner faced threats on social media after he reported that he was subjected to racism and discrimination during his stint at Yorkshire. Yorkshire issued a statement after ESPNcricinfo showed them a collection of messages sent to Chadwick Lawrence, the legal firm used by Rafiq.

Among those messages was a demand for Rafiq to “stop trashing Yorkshire CCC” or see the post office run by his family members “trashed”. Rafiq described the messages as “vile” and “terrifying”.

However, the club was quick to condemn such harassment and promised to punish the culprits.

“We are appalled to learn of the threats made against Azeem Rafiq, his family and his legal team and condemn them in the strongest possible terms,” the club said in a statement.

“We understand that this is now a police matter and when the perpetrators are found we can confirm they will receive a lifetime ban from any premises owned or operated by Yorkshire County Cricket club or any of its affiliates,” it added.

Yorkshire had already launched an enquiry into Rafiq’s claims. But while they had originally hoped to report before Christmas, the timeframe has slipped considerably due to the large number of witnesses involved. The club are now avoiding putting a specific timeframe on a conclusion and insist their priority is ensuring the investigation is thorough.

“I have received social media abuse since I spoke out about my experiences at Yorkshire. That’s been awful, but much more worrying have been threats to my family and the implicitly threatening vile messages that my team has received. It’s terrifying,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Rafiq as saying.

“On the advice of my lawyers, I have reported the matter to the police. No one should feel scared to open up about as serious a matter as racism or be bullied once they have done so. This is another reason why Yorkshire’s investigators must complete their inquiry into racism at the club as quickly as possible.

“I urge others who have suffered racism to not be cowed by such nasty characters. Revealing those experiences is the only way to make sure there is progress in sport and society,” he added