Yorkshire Cricket Club: Head coach Andrew Gale suspended over historic tweet as racism crisis continues
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Andrew Gale has been suspended by the crisis-hit club over the contents of the tweet, while director of cricket Martyn Moxon has been signed off with ‘a stress related illness’.
The developments come just over 24 hours after the county’s new chair Lord Kamlesh Patel revealed a settlement with former player Azeem Rafiq, who was pursuing an employment tribunal following wide-ranging claims of institutional racism during his time at Headingley.
Since then, a series of new allegations have come to light in the media, including one relating to Gale.
He reportedly used an offensive anti-Semitic word in an exchange on Twitter, but told the Jewish News he had been ‘completely unaware’ of the term’s meaning and subsequently deleted the post. Contacted by the PA news agency after the story broke, Gale offered no comment.
Moxon, meanwhile, has faced repeated calls to exit the club in the aftermath of an independent report into Rafiq’s case. As well as Rafiq himself, Patel’s predecessor Roger Hutton has suggested both he and chief executive Mark Arthur should follow his example in resigning over their handling of the matter.
The pressure ramped up in the House of Commons earlier in the day, with Culture Minister Chris Philp condemning Yorkshire’s conduct with regard to Rafiq and stating: “If there is anybody left from that regime, they should resign as well.”
Neither man has yet done so, with Arthur seemingly holding firm and Moxon failing to report for work on Tuesday due to his health.
A statement from the club, which it said was issued ‘in the spirit of transparency’, read: “We can confirm that Andrew Gale, Yorkshire first XI coach, is currently suspended pending a disciplinary hearing following an historic tweet. The club will make a further statement once this process has been completed.
“Director of Cricket Martyn Moxon is, as of today (9 November), absent from work due to a stress-related illness. He will be given the necessary support.”
Patel revealed a raft of measures at a press conference on Monday, including a review of the club’s diversity and inclusion protocols, and reiterated his desire to face up to any sins of the past.
“We need to listen to anyone who has experienced racism, discrimination and abuse at this cricket club, and I urge others to come forward to share their experiences,” he said.
“We are aware that, since I spoke yesterday, a number of allegations have been made from individuals about their experiences in the media. These need to be properly investigated.
“I announced that an independent whistleblowing hotline will be set up as quickly as possible, as a safe space for people to come forward with disclosures. Once it is operational – and I have asked for this to happen by the end of this week – this will be the first step to a new and dedicated process to receive and to respond directly to all allegations and concerns.”
Earlier, Philp had responded to an urgent question in parliament by Stockport MP Nav Mishra with a strong warning of possible political intervention should the combined responses of Yorkshire and the England and Wales Cricket Board not be deemed sufficient.
He said: “We have been clear with the England and Wales Cricket Board that this needs a full, transparent investigation both into the incidents involving Azeem Rafiq but also into the wider cultural issues and Yorkshire Cricket Club.”
The minister acknowledged the ECB is “investigating this fully” and had started to act, including by suspending Yorkshire’s right to host international matches.
Philp went on: “This must be a watershed moment for cricket. The Government will now closely scrutinise the actions of the ECB…and we’re going to scrutinise the actions that Yorkshire County Cricket Club takes in response to these damning allegations.
“The investigations I’ve referred to need to be thorough, they need to be transparent and they need to be public – that is necessary to restore the public’s belief in cricket and beyond. Parliament is watching, the Government is watching and the country is watching.
“We expect real action and the Government stands ready to step in and take action if they do not put their own house in order. There were catastrophic failings of governance over many years at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, that is why it’s right the chairman resigned and I think, if there is anybody left from that regime they should resign as well.”
Philp also hinted those found guilty of racism should face severe sanctions. Former club captain Gary Ballance has already apologised for using a “racial slur” against Rafiq and reports in the Daily Telegraph claim he also used the term “Kevin” as a pejorative phrase to describe people of colour. PA has contacted his representatives for comment.
“A mere slap on the wrist or an admonishment is clearly not enough,” Philp said.
Meanwhile Cindy Butts, chair of the of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket appears to have been frustrated in her attempts to obtain a copy of the independent report in Rafiq’s case.
That has been shared with several parties who have a direct legal interest in it but the ECB has told PA it is unable to satisfy her request to receive the document due to the terms of its own legal agreement with Yorkshire.