Michael Vaughan issues fresh denial of Azeem Rafiq racism allegation: ‘It simply never happened’


ichael Vaughan has issued a substantial new denial of the racism allegation levelled at him by former Yorkshire teammate Azeem Rafiq, insisting it “simply never happened”.

That has prompted Vaughan to issue a fresh statement to the PA news agency, in which he says his reputation is being “trashed unfairly” and calls the accusations “the worst thing I have ever experienced”.

“I categorically deny saying the words attributed to me by Azeem Rafiq and want to re-state this publicly because the ‘you lot’ comment simply never happened,” the statement reads.

“Anyone who has viewed the Sky footage of Yorkshire’s pre-match huddle at the game in question in June 2009, and the interaction between the players, would find it hard to reconcile those scenes with the version of events that has been presented.

“I remember the match clearly because it was the first time in Yorkshire’s history that four players of Asian heritage had been selected in the same team. It was an important milestone for the county and it was also a moment of pride for me personally.

“At the time, I was a senior professional nearing the end of my career, but, having been the first non-Yorkshire born player signed by the county, it was also a sign of the progress that had been made during my time. I made a point of shaking all four players’ hands that day because I recognised it was a significant moment.

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“In 2009, only weeks later, I wrote enthusiastically about this specific match in my autobiography, saying: ‘This is going to be the shape of things to come for Yorkshire, as many of our most promising players come from the Asian community and it ought to be a good thing for our cricket’.

“Given my view that the inclusion of Asian players in the Yorkshire team was a very positive and welcome development, it is inconceivable I would have made the derogatory comment attributed to me. It goes against everything that I have always believed; it goes against what I expressly said in my book only weeks later; and it goes against the Sky footage showing me specifically congratulating each of the players concerned.”

Rafiq’s accusation came in a report into institutional racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, part of a scandal which has led to the withdrawal of numerous sponsors, the departure of several high-profile executives and seen Headingley lose the right to host international matches. A DCMS select committee will hear evidence on the scandal on Tuesday.

Vaughan was stood down from his ‘Tuffers & Vaughan’ radio show on BBC 5Live in the wake of the allegations, but the organisation are yet to make a decision over his long-term future. The 47-year-old is due to be part of BBC Test Match Special’s coverage of the Ashes this winter, as well as that of host television broadcaster Fox, whose coverage will also be screened for a British audience on BT Sport.

Vaughan’s statement continued: ”I have been lucky enough to enjoy a 30-year career in cricket, both as a player and a commentator, and I have never been accused of anything remotely similar. To be confronted with this allegation 11 years after it has supposed to have happened is the worst thing I have ever experienced.

“It is extremely upsetting that this completely false accusation has been made against me by a former team-mate, apparently supported by two other players. For some time, Ajmal Shahzad has been on record as saying that he never heard me say what has been suggested. I have been in contact with the six other players from that team and not one of them has any recollection of the remark being made.

“I fully accept that perspectives differ, and I have great sympathy for what Azeem Rafiq has gone through, but I hope everyone understands why I cannot allow this to go unchallenged or my reputation to be trashed unfairly.”

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