Matthew Hoggard: “Everyone has failed” in the ECB’s Yorkshire hearings on racism

The Yorkshire historical racism investigation and disciplinary process, according to former England cricketer Matthew Hoggard, has failed all parties involved, including Azeem Rafiq.

Hoggard, who is being investigated on four counts by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), has stopped cooperating with the investigation.

Rafiq originally accused Yorkshire of racism in August 2020, and he subsequently referred to English cricket as being “institutionally racist.”

Hoggard, who played county cricket for Yorkshire and Leicestershire, claims to be “excellent friends” with Rafiq after calling him in September 2020 after watching him on television.

The process has failed everyone, he told BBC Sport. Every person concerned is unhappy with how this procedure has been handled.

“Azeem [Rafiq], all the respondents, [former Yorkshire chairman] Lord Patel, and Yorkshire all have issues with it. There must be a better approach.

Hoggard is accused of using racial slurs while playing for Yorkshire, which is the basis for four allegations of bringing the sport into disrepute.

Hoggard said in his first interview following the allegations: “I’m withdrawing because I don’t think the procedure is fair.

“In this, nobody comes out on top. It does not imply guilt, though. The truth is known by those who are truthful. To me, that is all that matters.

“I, as a response, have never had a conversation with the ECB,” I said.

Before any charges were brought, the ECB reportedly “wrote to individuals to offer them a chance to respond in writing,” adding that “any respondent who requested we additionally speak to them was also spoken to.”

Rafiq said that he had been “again and again” vindicated during the previous two years.

“This has included numerous public and private apologies from people who witnessed or were involved in this behavior, as well as others who have come forward to confirm the culture in the wider game,” the speaker continued. “This has included a legal investigation that confirmed I was a victim of racial harassment and bullying.

In his sole public remarks on the subject, Hoggard asserts the following:

There have been issues with the inquiry and disciplinary procedure from the beginning.
Regardless of whether the evidence would strengthen or weaken his defense, the ECB is refusing to provide it.
Rafiq and he are “friends,” and he doesn’t think his former teammate intentionally pursued people.
The four accusations against him stem from “dressing-room culture rather than racism” in the past.
The ECB issued a statement in which it stated: “We are convinced that the disciplinary procedure in this situation has been both thorough and fair. Individuals are free to choose not to participate in the hearings if they so desire, but the cases will still be heard in their absence.

“As with any case before the Cricket Discipline Commission, defendants are entitled to a fair hearing by an independent and knowledgeable CDC Panel where they can call witnesses and debate the facts underlying the accusation, including by questioning ECB witnesses under cross-examination. If defendants decide not to take advantage of this chance, that is completely their decision.

The independent CDC Panel, not the ECB, will decide whether or not there is guilt and what penalties will be applied at the conclusion of the hearing.

How are we going to defend ourselves?
Thomas Hoggard
Picture of Matthew Hoggard from June 2021
Hoggard, who won the Ashes with England in 2005, was one of seven people accused in June of last year along with Yorkshire in response to Rafiq’s claims of historical prejudice.

After being charged, former Yorkshire captain and coach Andrew Gale withdrew from the case.

Along with former England all-rounder Tim Bresnan and former Scotland speed bowler John Blain, Hoggard withdrew on Friday.

The other defendants in a March hearing of the ECB’s Cricket Disciplinary Commission are the former captain of England Michael Vaughan, the former England international Gary Ballance, and the former Yorkshire bowler Richard Pyrah.

Following a request from former spin bowler Rafiq, the CDC chose to hold the hearing in public for the first time.

Hoggard claims that despite making a statement to the ECB after being charged, he was never questioned as part of the investigation.

He says the ECB contacted 56 witnesses as part of its inquiry, but despite repeated demands from Hoggard’s attorneys, the regulator is refusing to turn over all of the evidence gathered. Additionally, the 46-year-old claims that only one of the four charges against him is supported by exact dates.

Hoggard asked, “How can we defend ourselves? “How is a fair trial possible for anyone?

“The ECB has evidence that they won’t let us see, whether it helps or hurts us. Why is that so?

“This procedure has been defective on both counts since the beginning. If Azeem doesn’t believe his voice is being heard, I feel bad for him.

“This method is unfair to everyone involved. Why did it take so long for it to arrive?

According to the ECB, it has “completely followed right procedure, including complying with its disclosure requirements and supplying relevant parties with material at the appropriate time.”

Rafiq and I are on “good terms”
Between 2008 and 2014, during Rafiq’s first stint with Yorkshire, Hoggard spent his final years with the county before leaving for Leicestershire in 2009. Between 2016 and 2018, Rafiq served at Headingley for a second time.

Hoggard called Rafiq the following month after Hoggard initially raised his accusations of racism at Yorkshire in an interview with the Cricket Badger podcast in August 2020. Since then, they have kept in touch.

Hoggard remarked, “We are friendly because we have never quarreled or misunderstood one another. We’ve had a long-standing friendship between us. Azeem felt that Yorkshire had let him down and that he had lost his way in cricket.

“I’ve had a couple conversations with Raffa. He stated, “I did not then and do not now think Matthew Hoggard is a racist guy,” in one of his statements.

“Azeem claims that I shouldn’t be concerned about his first stint at Yorkshire. That’s sufficient for me.

In addition, Hoggard claims Rafiq called him after his initial appearance before a DCMS select committee in November 2021 to apologize for the missed work and reputational harm.

Rafiq expressed his gratitude to Matthew Hoggard for phoning him to apologize quickly after he learned of his actions in 2020. However, it is terrible that the defendants are unwilling to attend a court proceeding and confront their guilt.

Hoggard believes that while Rafiq did not want to target specific people, allegations “snowballed” and the story of what happened in the Yorkshire dressing room has evolved.

In October of last year, the ECB censured Rafiq for a Facebook conversation from 2011 that contained anti-Semitic remarks. In November 2021, when the communications were discovered, Rafiq apologized.

Three of Hoggard’s four allegations are related to Rafiq’s testimony, while one is about a moniker used for former Yorkshire star Ismail Dawood.

From the day Rafiq made his first-team debut in June 2008 to the point he departed Yorkshire the following year, Hoggard is charged with giving Rafiq an abusive nickname.

In South Africa, where Hoggard had previously played, the epithet is considered racially insulting, and Hoggard admits to using it.

He claims that Rafiq was given the moniker, which means “an unbeliever in Islam,” by other Asian players on the Yorkshire side.

“Someone gave him [it] a call. I questioned it, Hoggard said.

“Raffa has acknowledged that in the past, he engaged in behavior that he regrets. The Asians in the changing area referred to him as it. He simply laughed, taking no offense from it.

“I didn’t come up with it, which is why I questioned it. It’s a terrible name for someone in South Africa.”

Hoggard is also accused of using a racial epithet in the 2008 campaign.

Hoggard is also accused of calling Asian players “you lot” in the Yorkshire locker room in 2008 or 2009 as a derogatory phrase.

Absolutely, he responded. “I would address any gathering with “you lot.” Any risk of you lot scoring any runs today, any risk of you lot catching? I would have yelled “you lot” to the academy boys and “you lot” to the batters.

Hoggard is also accused of calling Dawood in 2004 or 2005 by the moniker “TBM” or “Token Black Man.”

Dawood, a former wicketkeeper who later attained the rank of first-class umpire, along with John Holder, a fellow umpire, accused the ECB of racism in 2020.

On Hoggard’s stag do, Hoggard believes that Dawood gave himself the moniker.

Hoggard remarked, “He identified himself as that to other individuals. It persisted for a Yorkshire season. He would occasionally be ‘TBM’.

“When that was spoken in the locker room, on the field, or in passing, I wondered if I was a TBM because of quotas and I wasn’t good enough on the field,” he later recalled.

This, according to Dawood, is “just not true” and is “another pathetic attempt to smear and ridicule.”

“All parties, including Matthew Hoggard, will have a valuable opportunity to attend the future ECB public racism hearing,” he continued. I hope the CDC will consider the attempts to denigrate rather than accept responsibility and apologize.

According to Hoggard, the culture of the dressing room is at the center of the complaints rather than racism.

In addition, he disagreed with Rafiq’s assertion that racism is institutionalized in English cricket and said he would not have acted any differently if given the chance.

There are no restrictions, he declared. “You would cringe if you wrote down every word that is uttered in a changing room and then read it. Additionally, throughout the previous 15 years, both society and memories of the events will have altered.

Rafiq, on the other hand, has referred to the rhetoric used in the changing rooms as “racist and bullying.” The title of his upcoming book is “It’s Not Banter, It’s Racism.”

“It’s not OK,” stated Hoggard, “if I think that someone is offended, doesn’t like it, or is backing away.

“It was a horrible culture if that changing room didn’t realize someone was being singled out, picked on, or abused. There wouldn’t have gone unnoticed if there had been a separation in that changing room.

The ECB unveiled a five-point action plan to combat racism in November 2021, which included an assessment of dressing-room culture. Originally slated to be provided at the conclusion of the 2022 season, the review has yet to be released.

Hoggard has not participated in first-class cricket since 2013, but the ECB maintains that it still has jurisdiction over him because he signed an agreement to follow the rules of the governing body in order to register to play.

The ECB asserts that the undertaking’s conditions are legally enforceable forever.

In December of last year, Rafiq stated he had “been pushed out of the country” as a result of “threats and insults” after speaking about the allegedly racist incident at Yorkshire.

Hoggard expressed his sympathy for Rafiq, but he also mentioned the toll the accusations have had on him and his family.

He admitted, “I didn’t want to leave the house when the allegations first came out.” People claim they cannot afford to be seen with me, thus I’ve been canceled. I have lost a lot of work.

“My family has been severely abused, especially my wife. I’m through. People who are familiar with me are aware of who I am. That’s sufficient in my book.

“I’m not participating in a procedure that I believe isn’t being handled fairly.”

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