Pujara was called ‘Steve’ during Yorkshire stint, racist reference to people of colour: Former staff

Former West Indies international Tino Best and Pakistan’s Rana Naved-ul-Hasan provided evidence in support of Rafiq as part of an ongoing investigations into his allegations.

Cheteshwar Pujara was subject to racial abuse during his stint with Yorkshire.   -  Getty Images

English county side Yorkshire finds itself in the centre of a raging issue with former players and employees backing cricketer Azeem Rafiq’s claims of “institutional racism” at the club, including the use of a generic name for India’s Cheteshwar Pujara.

According to ESPNcricinfo, two former Yorkshire employees, Taj Butt and Tony Bowry, have also given evidence against the club.

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“(There were) continuous references to taxi drivers and restaurant workers when referring to (the) Asian community,” Butt, who was employed within the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation as a community development officer, was quoted as saying by the cricket news website.

“They called every person of colour ‘Steve.’ Even Cheteshwar Pujara, who joined as an overseas professional, was called Steve because they could not pronounce his name.”

Having worked as a coach until 1996, Bowry was the cultural diversity officer at the Yorkshire Cricket Board from 1996 until 2011, before he was appointed cricket development manager to develop the game for Black communities.

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“It affected performance... They were labelled troublemakers.”

Speaking about his experiences at the club, former off-spinner Rafiq, who left Yorkshire in 2018, said he had been close to committing suicide after what he experienced.

During an interview by the independent investigating team last month, he said he had been “bullied and targeted because of my race.”

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Best, a former West Indies fast bowler who played at the club in 2010, and Rana Naved, a former Pakistan seamer who played as an overseas player between 2008 and 2009, also supported Rafiq.

In a statement, Rana said he agreed with “each and every statement of Azeem” and that “many Asian players were affected by their (Yorkshire’s) bad attitude.”

After the revelations by Rafiq, Yorkshire announced that it will initiate measures to tackle discrimination and boost inclusion in the club, including appointing a head of equality.

Rafiq welcomed the measures initiated by both Yorkshire and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and sought “an urgent meeting” with the latter to discuss “how we can instil cultural and racial acceptance through all age groups.”

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