LONDON: The chairman of Yorkshire resigned on Friday over a growing racism row, blaming senior figures at one of England's leading cricket clubs for refusing to accept the scale of the problem.
Former player Azeem Rafiq has accused Yorkshire of failing to deal adequately with his allegations of abuse while at the county, saying he had been driven to thoughts of suicide.
Yorkshire in September issued "profound and unreserved apologies" to the 30-year-old but subsequently said they would take no disciplinary action against any of their staff and concluded the club was not institutionally racist.
That unleased a wave of fierce criticism, including from government ministers, with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) stripping Yorkshire of their right to host international cricket, together with a mass exodus of sponsors, including Nike.
Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton said Friday he had resigned with immediate effect, issuing a full apology to Pakistan-born Rafiq and calling on the executive board to follow suit.
"The club should have recognised at the time the serious allegations of racism," he said in a statement. "I am sorry that we could not persuade executive members of the board to recognise the gravity of the situation and show care and contrition."
Hutton, who joined the Yorkshire board in 2020, nearly two years after Rafiq ended his second stint at the club, also took aim at the ECB, saying it refused his plea "to support a robust inquiry".
"There has been a constant unwillingness from the executive members of the board and senior management at the club to apologise, and to accept that there was racism, and to look forward," he said.
"For much of my time at the club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge."
Hutton, who was this week called to appear before a committee of lawmakers later this month, called for the executive members of the board to resign to "make way for a new path".
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison rejected Hutton's assertion the national governing body had not acted quickly enough.