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Yorkshire’s racism furore has deepened after a leading administrator in the region launched a personal attack on Azeem Rafiq.

Roger Pugh, the chairman of ECB Yorkshire South Premier League, described Rafiq as “discourteous and disrespectful” in his chairman’s blog dated September 3 and posted the following day.

It followed Rafiq’s interview with ESPNcricinfo, published on September 2, in which he claimed his experiences of “institutional racism” while playing for Yorkshire left him on the brink of committing suicide.

Pugh said that he was “not in a position to comment on” Rafiq’s allegations, but claimed that he had found Rafiq “very difficult to deal with” before invoking a “biblical quote” in response to learning of the former player’s comments.

“Yesterday, I read that Azeem Rafiq had made allegations of ‘institutional racism’ at Yorkshire CCC,” Pugh wrote in his blog. “Of course, I am not in a position to comment on these allegations, but that they should come from him does not surprise me.

“I have had contact with Azeem both as an umpire and an administrator, and found him very difficult to deal with – being both discourteous and disrespectful. Indeed, over the five years in which we have been in existence, he is the only person in our league that I have had any issues with.

“Several of our umpires and one of our clubs also had problems with him in 2016, when he was back with YCCC, and I wrote to the club to draw attention to his behaviour – a step not taken lightly. I am not a religious man, but a biblical quote seems to me apt here. It is, ‘as ye sow, so shall ye reap.'”

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

In his interview, Rafiq expanded on similar comments he had made to and the Cricket Badger podcast, and claimed that Yorkshire had treated him coldly in the wake of a family tragedy, releasing him from his contract shortly after his son was still-born, despite having claimed they would look after him “professionally and personally”.

He highlighted how the lack of diversity within the Yorkshire dressing room had made him a target, including from senior players and one captain whom he stated was “openly racist”.

Now aged 29 and pursuing a career away from cricket, having led Yorkshire in a T20 against Durham in 2012 to become the youngest captain in the club’s history, Rafiq said he had chosen to speak out to “prevent anyone else feeling the same pain”.

On Thursday, Yorkshire promised a full independent inquiry into Rafiq’s claims as well as a wider review into its policies and culture in a statement quoting chairman Roger Hutton as saying: “Any allegation of this nature is hugely concerning to everyone from the board to the playing staff here, and we take the reports very seriously.”

The club released a further statement on Saturday saying that it had “asked independent law firm, Squire Patton Boggs (Squire) to lead an investigation and review of these matters”.

“As The Yorkshire County Cricket Club have previously indicated, it takes the matters aired by Azeem Rafiq very seriously,” the statement said. “Squire has extensive expertise and has begun the work to ensure a thorough investigation and review is conducted.”

Upon announcing Hutton as Yorkshire CCC chairman in April, the club said on its website: “Educated at Exeter University and Leeds Metropolitan University Law School, Hutton took the role of Article Clerk at Squire Patton Boggss (sic) before joining Clarion as an Assistant Solicitor in 1996. Three years later, Hutton became a partner at the law firm and has since worked with many high-profile clients.”

A spokesman for Yorkshire CCC said that Hutton no longer had any connection, personal or professional, with Squire.

“Roger’s managing partner at Clarion and at the moment we have no further statement,” the spokesman said. “There will be a further statement in the coming days which will clarify more on the process itself.”

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Welcome to News – Happy 60th, Diego


  • Diego Maradona celebrates his 60th birthday today
  • We pay tribute with video footage and stats
  • He was directly involved in ten of 13 Argentina goals at one tournament

Diego Maradona was just nine when he told a television reporter that his biggest wish was to play at a FIFA World Cup™. Those black-and-white images, from a curly-haired kid who wooed viewers with his incredible ball skills, would reverberate throughout his career and mark a before and after with the Argentina national team. pays tribute to Maradona by looking back at some of his most inspirational moments of his international career.

From debut to first disappointment

Maradona was already a teen sensation with Argentinos Juniors when he made his Albiceleste debut in February 1977 in a friendly against Hungary at La Bombonera, one of the stadiums that would also witness his heroics at club level.

‘El Pelusa’ became, at 16 years and 130 days, the youngest player to represent Argentina – a record which still remains.

Maradona came on in place of Leopoldo Luque and, while he failed to score in the 5-1 win, he managed to demonstrate his undoubted quality, just as he did in subsequent preparation games for Argentina 1978. However, it proved insufficient to earn him a place in the squad that would go on to win the title on home soil, providing the first major disappointment of his bourgeoning career.

“When I was omitted from the squad for ‘being too young’, I began to realise that my anger could be a fuel for me,” he would later say.

See also

Taffarel exclusive on Maradona, Hagi, Alisson, Messi & Neymar

‘El Pibe de Oro’ conquers Japan

Under the stewardship of Cesar Menotti, the same coach who had left him out of the squad for Argentina 1978, Maradona proved his worth by leading La Albiceleste to the title at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Japan 1979™.

His dazzling performance, a foretaste of what would happen seven years later in Mexico, earned him the adidas Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.

His six goals secured him the adidas Silver Boot as second-best scorer. Notably, he found the net once in the quarters, semis and final, underlining his ability to produce on the big occasion.

Azteca ecstasy

The frustration that carried over from Spain 1982, when his World Cup ended with a red card in the defeat to Brazil, only fuelled Maradona’s desire to make amends at Mexico 1986. With Carlos Bilardo at the helm, ‘El Diez’ produced one of the most impactful individual performances in the history of the World Cup and contributed enormously to Argentina’s title.

His goals against England in the quarter-finals are now part of footballing lore. For the first, he converted with his hand without the referee noticing, famously claiming afterwards that it had been “with the hand of God”.

The second, however, was one of the finest individual efforts of all time. “Cosmic kite, which planet did you come from?” shouted Uruguayan commentator Victor Hugo Morales in immortalising the goal.

With five goals and five assists, Maradona had a hand in ten of his side’s 13 strikes in Mexico, picking up the adidas Golden Ball as well as Silver Boot. And though he did not manage to score in the Final, he did provide the assist for the winning goal in the 3-2 victory.

Suffering, joy and tears…

Maradona and Argentina went into Italy 1990 with injury and form concerns and made very hard work of the group phase. Once again Maradona was instrumental, even preventing a goal with his arm against Soviet Union that went unpunished, as his side progressed to the Round of 16 as one of the best third-placed teams.

He followed his exquisite assist for Claudio Caniggia’s winner in the 1-0 defeat of Brazil with a missed penalty against Yugoslavia in the quarter-finals. But Maradona would make amends in the semi-final against Italy in Naples, where, ironically, he played his club football at the time. Inevitably, Maradona would score during the penalty shootout that denied the hosts a place in the Final of their World Cup.

“That was the penalty that caused me the most anguish in my life… But I was the one who knocked Italy out,” he later told FIFA TV. His tears on collecting his runners-up medal after losing the Final to Germany would forever seal his bond with generations of Argentina fans.

Maradona at the World Cup

Spain 1982520Second phase
Mexico 1986755Champions
Italy 1990702Runners-up
USA 1994211Round of 16

  • Maradona is the Argentinian with the most World Cup appearances
  • He is the Argentinian with the most Word Cup assists
  • He is third on the list of Argentinian goalscorers at the World Cup behind Batistuta (10 goals) and Guilermo Stabile (eight)

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