Michael Vaughan breaks his silence amid Azeem Rafiq allegations

Michael Vaughan breaks his silence: Ashes winning England captain gives first TV interview with the BBC to deny aiming racial slur at Azeem Rafiq as ex-cricketer insists he was ‘proud as punch’ of Asian stars playing for Yorkshire

  • Michael Vaughan has given his first TV interview since being accused of racism  
  • The ex-England captain is alleged to have aimed a slur at Asian team-mates 
  • Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid and Rana Naved made the explosive accusation
  • Vaughan, 47, says he has no recollection of the incident dating back to 2009 
  • He insisted that he was ‘proud as punch’ of the Asian stars playing for Yorkshire 
  • Vaughan hopes to be back on British airwaves after being dropped by the BBC 

Michael Vaughan has broken his silence as the former England captain insisted he was ‘proud as punch’ of Asian stars playing for Yorkshire in the wake of allegations made against him by Azeem Rafiq. 

Vaughan, 47, was accused by former Yorkshire star Rafiq, Adil Rashid and Rana Naved of saying ‘too many of you lot, we need to do something about it’ ahead of a cricket match for the county in 2009.

The former cricketer has been stood down by the BBC from their Ashes coverage this winter for ‘editorial reasons’, while several of his sponsors have distanced themselves.

And in his first television interview since the scandal broke, Vaughan told the BBC that he had ‘no recollection’ of the incident in question, before apologising to Rafiq for the hurt he has felt.  

He said: ‘I don’t [remember], my recollection from that day as I’ve said I was a Yorkshire player for 18 years, I was the first player to sign for that club that was not born in the county, so for 18 years we have gone from me being the first to sign for the club, Sachin Tendulkar being the first from overseas, to players being able to sign from other clubs. 

‘It was my last few games and I remember it clearly that I was proud as punch that we had four Asian players representing Yorkshire cricket club.’

Michael Vaughan has denied racially abusing Azeem Rafiq in his first television interview since allegations were made against the former England captain

Rafiq claims that Vaughan said ‘too many of you lot, we need to do something about it’ towards Yorkshire’s Asian players before a match in 2009

Vaughan added that the explosive allegation made against him ‘hurts’ as he insisted that he made efforts to create an inclusive dressing room environment.  

‘That hurts, because I’ve always felt that every single team that I have been involved in, the biggest praise I ever got as England captain for six years was that I was the kind of person that really galvanized the group, got the team working together as one. I wanted everyone in the dressing room to feel included,’ he said.

Referring to Rafiq, the former England captain apologised for ‘all the hurt he has gone through’ and said that cricket must not ‘put themselves in a position of denial’. 

‘I’m sorry for the hurt that he has gone through,’ he said. ‘Yorkshire Cricket Club  I believe is me, it has been my life whether I have been a player or not, I believe that once you have played for Yorkshire you are always a Yorkshire player and I am sorry for all the hurt that he has gone through. 

Vaughan said he had ‘no recollection’ of making the slur and said he was ‘proud as punch’ of the number of Asian players representing Yorkshire Cricket Club

The 47-year-old added that he made efforts to ‘galvanise’ his teams and ‘wanted everyone in the dressing room to feel included’

‘Time can never be a healer but hopefully time can be a way of Yorkshire Cricket Club never going through this situation again and not putting themselves in a position of denial that they treated the players so badly. 

A number of offensive tweets posted by Vaughan have come to light in recent weeks, including one that read: ‘Not many English people live in London… I need to learn a new language.’

Vaughan said he felt regret for ‘many tweets’ he posted before apologising to those offended by his posts. 

‘I look back at my 12 years in social media, I regret many tweets,’ he said. ‘I apologise deeply to anyone I offended with those tweets.’

The 47-year-old has enjoyed a hugely-successful broadcast career since retiring in 2009, and while he will be on commentary duty for Australian broadcaster FOX Sports this summer, he hopes that he can return to British airwaves in the future after being dropped by the BBC.  

Vaughan also said he has ‘many regrets’ over offensive tweets he has posted on Twitter

Vaughan apologised to former Yorkshire star Rafiq ‘for all the hurt he has gone through’

‘I won’t be doing the Ashes, I understand the story is all about Azeem Rafiq and racism in cricket I just hope in time I will have that chance to come back. The one thing I have loved more than anything since retiring is talking cricket, and I hope I can do that again.’    

A BBC spokesman said regarding the decision to axe Vaughan: ‘While he is involved in a significant story in cricket, for editorial reasons we do not believe that it would be appropriate for Michael Vaughan to have a role in our Ashes team or wider coverage of the sport at the moment.

‘We require our contributors to talk about relevant topics and his involvement in the Yorkshire story represents a conflict of interest.’

Vaughan posted on Instagram: ‘Very disappointed not to be commentating for TMS on the Ashes and will miss working with great colleagues & friends, but looking forward to being behind the mic for @foxcricket in Australia.

Vaughan took to Instagram after the announcement to say he was ‘very disappointed’ he was taken off the BBC’s coverage

‘The issues facing cricket are bigger than any individual case and I want to be part of the solution, listening, educating myself and helping to make it a more welcoming sport for all.’

Vaughan allegedly made the comment ahead of the 2009 T20 match between Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.

Footage shows Vaughan shaking hands with the four Yorkshire team-mates – Rashid, Rafiq, Naved-ul-Hasan, and Shahzad, with them all laughing.

Rafiq claimed Vaughan said: ‘There are too many of you lot. We need to do something about it.’

Rashid and Naved-ul-Hasan said they backed the claim but former seamer Shahzad said he did not hear the exchange at which he was present.

Vaughan said that Yorkshire Cricket Club can never put themselves in a position of denial

Vaughan was earlier this month stood down from his BBC Radio 5 Live show after saying he was named in a report into Yorkshire CCC’s treatment of Rafiq. 

The latest in the Yorkshire racism row comes as a commission looking at racism in cricket said it was ‘inundated’ with more than 2,000 responses in a fortnight.

The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC), set up by the ECB in March, opened an anonymous online survey on November 9.

It asked for people’s views on the culture of the game and its chair, Cindy Butts, said there had already been a huge response.

She said: ‘Since launching part one of our call for evidence we have been inundated with responses.

‘More than 2,000 people across the country have come forward to share their experiences both through the survey and also by directly reaching out to the ICEC. We anticipate that more and more people will come forward.

‘We continue to urge anyone who has experienced discrimination whether that be sexism, elitism or racism, to respond to our call for evidence so we can examine the state of equity in cricket.’ 

Which England stars have Azeem Rafiq dragged into explosive cricket row and what has he claimed?

  • Gary Ballance:

Rafiq said he started medication due to his deteriorating mental health and left Yorkshire for the first time in 2014. When he returned he initially felt settled under captain Alex Lees and coach Jason Gillespie.

‘Jason left in 2016 and it just felt the temperature in the room had been turned up,’ Rafiq said. ‘You had Andrew Gale coming in as coach and Gary Ballance as captain. For the first time I started to see for what it was – I felt isolated, humiliated at times. Constant use of the word ‘P***’.’

Rafiq said on a 2017 pre-season tour Ballance had racially abused him. ‘We were in a place and Gary Ballance walks over and goes, ‘Why are you talking to him? You know he’s a P***’. This happened in front of team-mates. It happened in front of coaching staff.’

Gary Ballance  (pictured playing for England against South Africa in July 2017) is among the cricket stars accused of being racist between 2008 and 2018 by Rafiq

He added: ‘He would constantly talk down to me and make racist jokes, designed to undermine me and make me feel small, like coming up and interrupting when I was talking to girls in a club, saying ‘don’t talk to him, he’s a P***’. I remember crying outside a nightclub after his constant racist taunting.

‘On those bus trips, he would look out for corner shops and make comments like ‘does your dad own these?’ Gary would often make comments like this on YCCC [Yorkshire County Cricket Club] bus trips, in the dressing room, or at events — and in front of YCCC coaches, staff and management, including our coach, Andrew Gale, [the coach] Richard Pyrah, director of cricket Martyn Moxon, and club president Dickie Bird. But nothing was said or done to stop it. Instead, they often laughed along.’

Ballance admitted using a ‘racial slur’ towards Rafiq in a lengthy statement this month, apologising but framing it as part of their friendship. Rafiq told the committee that was not an accurate depiction of their relationship, saying it went downhill from 2013 onwards and had become toxic by 2017.

  • Alex Hales:

Rafiq also alleged former England batter Alex Hales was involved, saying: ‘Gary and Alex Hales got really close to each other when they played for England together. I wasn’t present in that dressing room, but what I understand (is) that Alex went on to name his dog ‘Kevin’ because it was black. It’s disgusting how much of a joke it was.’

Alex Hales pictured with ex-girlfriend Danni Gisbourne, who dumped him over claims he had been unfaithful on a cricket tour

  • Michael Vaughan:

Asked about Vaughan, Rafiq said: ‘Michael might not remember it… three of us, Adil, myself and Rana remember it.

‘He clearly had a snippet of my statement. He used his platform at the Daily Telegraph to tell everyone he hadn’t said these things. To go on and put a snippet of my statement out and talk about other things, I thought was completely wrong. He probably doesn’t remember it because it doesn’t mean anything to him.’

  • Tim Bresnan:

Rafiq make claims over the former England player’s behaviour at the club, saying he was among ‘six or seven’ players to have made a bullying complaint against the star in 2017. But he added that he was the only one of those players who was of colour.

He said: ‘Tim is Andrew’s [Gale’s] brother-in-law. They always supported each other. Tim would tag along and join in with Andrew’s racist comments and they bounced off each other in terms of the bullying. As with Andrew, Tim frequently made racist comments and was unduly harsh towards me compared to white British players, which became so unbearable that I made a formal complaint against him in 2017.’

  • Matthew Hoggard:

Rafiq said: ‘It was Hoggy who started calling me ‘Raffa the Kaffir’. It was only later I realised what ‘Kaffir’ meant, how it was used, and that it was a racist term. Comments from Hoggy towards myself and the other Asian players — Adil, Ajmal and Rana — were constant.

‘He might have thought it was just dressing room banter, but we would come in in the morning and he would say things like ‘you lot sit over there’ and make us all sit together. He would also call us things like ‘elephant washers’ and ‘P***’. Rafiq said Matthew Hoggard apologised to him after watching him being interviewed about his experience at Yorkshire.

He said: ‘I took a phone call from Matthew and he just said, ‘Look, I didn’t realise, I’m really sorry. If some of the comments I made made you feel the way you’ve described it, I just want to apologise’. You know what, when someone does that, I was like, ‘Thank you, I really appreciate it’.’

Rafiq also made claims over Tim Bresnan’s (left) behaviour at the club, saying he was among ‘six or seven’ players to have made a bullying complaint against the star in 2017. Rafiq said Matthew Hoggard (right) had apologised to him after watching him being interviewed about his experience at Yorkshire

  • Joe Root:

Rafiq said he found it ‘hurtful’ England captain Root said he had never witnessed anything of a racist nature at Yorkshire. ‘Rooty is a good man. He never engaged in racist language,’ Rafiq said.

‘I found it hurtful because Rooty was Gary (Ballance)’s housemate and had been involved in a lot of the socialising where I was called a ‘P***’. It shows how normal it was that even a good man like him doesn’t see it for what it was. It’s not going to affect Joe, but it’s something I remember every day.’

  • David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd:

Rafiq claimed: ‘There were denial, briefings, cover-ups, smearing, high-profile media people messaging other members of the media who supported me saying stuff like ‘the clubhouse is the lifeblood of a club and Asian players don’t go in there’, and ‘getting subs out of Asian players is like getting blood out of a stone’.

‘And then personally, this guy doesn’t even know me, has never spent any time with me, talking about my personal drinking, going out and socialising. That was David Lloyd, he’s been an England coach, commentator and I found it disturbing. Within a week of me speaking out that’s what I got sent to me, and I thought, ‘God, there’s some closet racists and we need to do something about it’.’

Sky cricket pundit David Lloyd has apologised after being named by Azeem Rafiq amid cricket’s racism storm

  • Jack Brooks

Rafiq claimed Jack Brooks, a two-time County Championship winner at Yorkshire, had started the disrespectful practice of calling India star Cheteshwar Pujara ‘Steve’ during an overseas stint at the club.

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