ECB racism trial 'all failed' - Hoggard (2023)

Former England cricketer Matthew Hoggard says the historic Yorkshire racism inquiry and disciplinary process has failed with everyone involved, including Azeem Rafiq.

Hoggard, who is facing four charges from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), haswithdrawn its participation in the proceedings.

Rafiq first made allegations of racism in Yorkshire in August 2020, later calling himself English cricket"institutional racist".

Hoggard, who played county cricket for Yorkshire and Leicestershire, says he is "on good terms" with Rafiq, who he called after seeing him on TV in September 2020.

He told BBC Sport: "The process has failed on everyone. Every party involved has an issue with the way this process was handled.

“Azeem [Rafiq] has a problem with that, everyone polled has, [former Yorkshire chairman] Lord Patel has, Yorkshire has. There has to be a better way.”

Hoggard facesfour chargesdiscrediting the game focused on allegedly using racist language during his time in Yorkshire.

In his first interview since allegations were leveled against him, Hoggard added: "I'm withdrawing because I don't think it's a fair trial.

"There are no winners. It's not an admission of guilt. The people who know the truth know the truth. That's all that matters to me.

"Right now, Raffa gets whatever Raffa wants," Hoggard claimed. “It is weighted one-sidedly. As a respondent, I was not once approached by the ECB.”

The ECB said it had written "individuals to give them an opportunity to respond in writing before charges are brought" and that "any respondent who asked that we speak to them as well was also spoken to".

Rafiq said he had been rehabilitated "on and on" over the past two years.

He added: “This included a legal investigation which confirmed I was a victim of racial harassment and bullying; a panel commissioned by Yorkshire which concluded that I was discriminated against; numerous public and private apologies from persons who witnessed or were involved in the conduct; and others have come forward to confirm the culture in the game ahead."

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What Hoggard says will be his only public comments on the matter, he claims:

  • The investigative and disciplinary proceedings were flawed from the start
  • The ECB refuses to release evidence gathered during its investigation, regardless of whether it would help or hurt its defence
  • His relationship with Rafiq is that of "friends" and doesn't believe his former teammate has set out to pursue individuals
  • The four allegations against him are a question of past "locker room culture instead of racism"

In a statement, the ECB said: "Individuals have the right to choose not to attend the hearings if they wish to do so, but cases will nonetheless be heard in their absence and we are satisfied that the disciplinary process on this matter is continuing." both strict and fair.

"As in any case before the Cricket Discipline Commission, the accused are entitled to a fair hearing by an independent and experienced CDC panel where they may call witnesses, and they may also challenge the evidence in support of the charges, including through cross-examination by." ECB witnesses It is entirely up to the defendants to decide whether they want to take this opportunity.

"At the conclusion of the hearing, it is for the independent CDC panel, not the ECB, to determine guilt or otherwise and any sanctions."

'How can we defend ourselves?'

ECB racism trial 'all failed' - Hoggard (1)

Hoggard, an Ashes winner with England in 2005, was one of seven people charged along with Yorkshire in June last year after Rafiq made allegations of historical racism.

Ex-Yorkshire captain and trainerAndreas Galewithdrew his involvement in the trial shortly after the indictment.

Hoggard retired on Friday alongside former England all-rounder Tim Bresnan and former Scotland Tempo bowler John Blain

Former English captainMichael Vaughan,former England internationalGary Ballanceand ex-Yorkshire bowler Richard Pyrah are the others to be charged at a hearing before the ECB's Cricket Disciplinary Committee in March.

The CDC has decided to hold the hearing publicly -- for the first time -- at the request of former spin bowler Rafiq.

Hoggard made a statement to the ECB after his arraignment but says he was never questioned as part of the investigation.

He claims the ECB contacted 56 witnesses as part of its investigation, but says the governing body has refused to release all the evidence gathered, despite extensive requests from Hoggard's lawyers. The 46-year-old also says only one of the four charges against him has any specific dates attached to it.

"How can we defend ourselves?" said Hoggard. “How can anyone have a fair trial?

“The ECB has evidence – whether it helps or hinders us – that they will not let us see. Why is that?

“This process was flawed in both aspects from the start. I feel sorry for Azeem if he doesn't feel his voice is heard.

"It's not fair to anyone in this process. How come it took so long to get here?”

The ECB said it had “consistently followed a due process, including complying with its disclosure obligations and providing timely material to the relevant parties”.

"Good relations" with Rafiq

Rafiq's first spell with Yorkshire, between 2008 and 2014, coincided with Hoggard's final years with the county before signing for Leicestershire in 2009. Rafiq had a second stint at Headingley between 2016 and 2018.

His allegations of racism in Yorkshire were first raised in an interview with the Cricket Badger podcast in August 2020 and Hoggard called Rafiq the following month. Since then, the two have stayed in touch.

"We get along well because we've never had an argument or spoken a wrong word," Hoggard said. “Our relationship has been that of friends for a long time. Azeem lost his way at cricket and felt like Yorkshire had let him down.

"I spoke to Raffa a couple of times. In one of his statements he said: 'I didn't think at the time and don't believe that Matthew Hoggard is a racist person.'

"Azeem says I have nothing to worry about for his first visit to Yorkshire. That's good enough for me.”

Hoggard also says Rafiq called him after his first appearance before a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) selection committee in November 2021 to apologize for the lost work and damage to his reputation.

Rafiq told BBC Sport: "I was grateful to Matthew Hoggard for calling me to apologize shortly after my IPO in 2020. However, it is unfortunate that these defendants are unwilling to go to a public hearing and face what happened.”

Hoggard doesn't believe Rafiq intended to pursue individuals but says the allegations "were a snowball" and the "narrative" of what took place in the Yorkshire dressing room has changed.

Rafiq himself was arrested by the ECB in October last year for aFacebook exchangefrom 2011 with anti-Semitic messages. The news broke in November 2021, at which time Rafiq apologized.

The fees

Of the four charges against Hoggard, three relate to evidence provided by Rafiq, along with one to a nickname given to former Yorkshire player Ismail Dawood.

Hoggard is accused of giving Rafiq an offensive nickname from the day Rafiq made his first-team debut in June 2008 to the point he left Yorkshire the following year.

Hoggard admits using the term, which is racially offensive in South Africa, where Hoggard previously played.

However, he claims that the nickname Rafiq was given by other Asian members of the Yorkshire squad, using the meaning of an infidel in Islam.

"Somebody called him [it]. I questioned it," Hoggard said.

"Raffa has admitted he has done things in the past that he was not proud of. He was called that by the Asians in the dressing room. He didn't take offense, he just laughed.

"I didn't think of it because it's a terrible name for someone in South Africa, which is why I questioned it."

Hoggard is also charged with using a racist term during the 2008 season.

Hoggard is also accused of using the term 'You Lot' as a derogatory term for Asian players in the Yorkshire dressing room in 2008 and/or 2009.

"Absolutely," he said. "I would say to each group 'their lot'. I would have said 'your lot' to the academy guys, 'your lot' to the batters - 'any chance you'll get some runs today, any chance you'll catch a lot'."

Hoggard is also accused of using the nickname "TBM" or "Token Black Man" towards Dawood in 2004 and/or 2005.

Ex-wicketkeeper Dawood went on to become a first-rate umpire and, along with fellow umpire John Holder, made racism allegations against the ECB in 2020.

Hoggard claims Dawood gave himself the nickname at Hoggard's bachelor party.

"He introduced himself to other people that way," Hoggard said. “It carried over into a season in Yorkshire. He was occasionally 'TBM'.

"He later said, 'When it was said in the dressing room, on the field or in passing, because of the odds, I wondered if I was a TBM and wasn't good enough on the field'."

Dawood said this was "another feeble attempt at slander and ridicule" and was "simply not true".

He added: "The upcoming ECB public hearing on racism will provide a valuable opportunity for all parties, including Matthew Hoggard, to participate. I hope that attempts to discredit them, rather than acknowledging and apologizing, will be considered in the CDC's decision."

Hoggard said the allegations were not a question of racism but of dressing room culture.

He also disagreed with Rafiq's claim that English cricket was institutionally racist and said he would not have acted differently if given the opportunity.

"Nothing is taboo," he said. "If you wrote down everything that was said in a dressing room and read it, you would cringe. In addition, both society and the memories of events have changed over the past 15 years.”

In contrast, Rafiq has labeled the language used in the dressing room as "racism and bullying". His forthcoming book is titled It's Not Banter, It's Racism.

Hoggard said: "If I thought someone was offended, didn't like it or balked, that's not okay.

"If someone was singled out, teased and abused, if that dressing room didn't notice, it was bad culture. If there was a rift in that dressing room it would have been noticed, but it wasn't."

In November 2021, the ECBannounced a five-point action planto combat racism, including a review of dressing room culture. This review was originally intended to be submitted at the end of the 2022 season but has yet to be published.

Although Hoggard has not played first-class cricket since 2013, the ECB argues that it retains jurisdiction over him on the terms of a commitment to abide by governing body rules that a person signs to be registered to play.

The ECB claims that the terms of the pledge are binding for life.

Speaking at the DCMSfor the second timeIn December last year, Rafiq said he had been "forced out of the country" by "threats and abuse" since speaking out about alleged racism in Yorkshire.

While Hoggard said he sympathizes with Rafiq, he also spoke about the toll the allegations have taken on him and his family.

"When the first allegations came up, I didn't want to leave the house," he said. "I've been cancelled, people say they can't afford to be seen with me. I lost so much work.

"My family was hit, especially my wife. I'm done. The people who know me know what I'm about, they know. That's good enough for me.

"I will not participate in a process that I do not believe is being conducted fairly."

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