Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has been cleared of using racist or discriminatory language and bringing the game into disrepute during his playing days at Yorkshire County Cricket Club by a disciplinary panel.
The Cricket Discipline Commission published its conclusion on Friday following claims by another former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq that Vaughan had used racist language towards him and three other Asian players ahead of a match in 2009. Vaughan had denied the allegation.
Five other former Yorkshire players — Tim Bresnan, John Blain, Andrew Gale, Matthew Hoggard and Richard Pyrah — were found liable “for their alleged use of racist and/or discriminatory language”, according to a statement by the ECB, which is the governing body and regulator in England and Wales.
Unlike Vaughan, Bresnan, Blain, Gale, Hoggard and Pyrah pulled out of the disciplinary process.
“This is not a case which necessitated a conclusion from the panel that anyone has lied or acted out of malice,” the CDC said in its conclusion on Vaughan. “Far from it, the panel had to consider whether the case as presented to it by the ECB, in light of all the evidence, was sufficiently accurate and reliable, on the balance of probabilities, to rule out mistake. It was not.”
However, the panel concluded that its findings on the Vaughan allegation “do not in any way undermine” Rafiq’s other revelations of the racism he had faced, many of which were confirmed by Yorkshire and others. The CDC is independent of the ECB.
The sport has been embroiled in a racism scandal since Rafiq revealed he had contemplated suicide because of the abuse he suffered in his playing days at Yorkshire, which he had accused of “institutional racism”.
In a post on Instagram, Vaughan said the outcome of the 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”, adding: “The dismissal of the specific charge that concerned me takes nothing away from Azeem’s own lived experiences.”
Rafiq said that the issue “has never been about individuals but the game as a whole”, adding: “Cricket needs to understand the extent of its problems and address them. Hopefully, the structures of the game can now be rebuilt and institutionalised racism ended for good. It’s time to reflect, learn and implement change.”
ECB chair Richard Thompson said: “This has been an incredibly challenging period for our sport, but one we must all learn from in order to make cricket better and more inclusive.”
Any party wishing to appeal the CDC ruling has 14 days to do so.
Blain, Bresnan, Gale and Hoggard have been contacted for comment. In an interview with the Telegraph published earlier this month, Blain described the allegations against him as “perverse”. Gale said last year that he would “not be attending any hearing or acknowledging the outcome”.
Pyrah could not be immediately reached for comment. In February this year, he said Rafiq’s allegations of racism had “not been appropriately challenged”.
Gary Ballance, another former Yorkshire player who was charged, had previously admitted using racist language and subsequently apologised to Rafiq.