Yorkshire league chairman resigns in wake of Azeem Rafiq comments


The chairman of the Yorkshire South Premier League has resigned from his position less than a month after criticising Azeem Rafiq in a blog. Roger Pugh responded to Rafiq’s allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire, which left him on the brink of suicide, by labelling the former player as “discourteous and disrespectful” in his chairman’s blog dated September 3.

While Pugh’s resignation statement made no mention of the incident – and offered no apology – the timing is unlikely to be coincidental. Pugh declined to elaborate on his decision when contacted for comment by ESPNcricinfo.

ALSO READ: Rafiq was ‘on brink of suicide’ after experiencing racism at Yorkshire

“It is with great regret and a heavy heart that I have decided to stand down as chairman of the Yorkshire South Premier League, with immediate effect,” Pugh wrote in a statement, adding that he intended to continue helping the league in a volunteer capacity.

Pugh’s previous comments had provoked fierce criticism after it was interpreted as suggesting Rafiq had in some way brought the situation on himself. After saying he was “not in a position to comment on” the allegations, Pugh wrote that he had found Rafiq “very difficult to deal with” before invoking the Bible to conclude: “It is, ‘as ye sow, so shall ye reap.'”

As well as detailing his despair at the treatment he alleges he received from Yorkshire, Rafiq had also spoken of the grief he felt after the still-birth of his son. Pugh’s blog comments were subsequently deleted.

Yorkshire have responded to the allegations by launching an investigation. While the terms of the inquiry have yet to be published, it is understood they will look into the wider culture of cricket in the region as well as review Rafiq’s specific complaints.

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