BBC drops former England cricket captain from Ashes coverage over racism allegations

BBC drops former England cricket captain from Ashes coverage over racism allegations
3 min read
25 November, 2021
Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has been dropped from the BBC's Ashes coverage following accusations he made racist remarks to players with Asian heritage. He may also be dropped by BT Sport.
The BBC said it would no longer be 'appropriate' for Michael Vaughan to be involved in its cricket coverage [Getty]

Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has been dropped from the BBC's Ashes coverage over racism allegations, and may also be dumped by BT Sport

The BBC removed Vaughan from their Ashes team for “editorial reasons” after allegations emerged that the 47-year-old told four players of Asian heritage “there are too many of you lot. We need to do something about it” during a 2009 county match. 

BT Sport have also considered a last-minute drop. They are reviewing plans to use Fox Sports commentary - which features Vaughan -  for the upcoming England Australia test starting December 8. 

“We do not believe that it would be appropriate for Michael Vaughan to have a role in our Ashes team or wider coverage on the sport at the moment,” read a BBC statement. 

Vaughan was named in Yorkshire cricket club’s explosive report into Azeem Rafid’s claims of racism during his time at the club. 

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The report found that Rafiq, a cricketer of Pakistani heritage who played for Yorkshire between 2008 and 2018, was the “victim of racial harassment and bullying”.

The handling of his complaints has been the subject of controversy across UK cricket and politics, with the Equality and Human Rights Commission announcing it would look into the case to “determine if there had been a breach of law”. 

“The recent report presented to UK Parliament uncovering institutional racism within cricket and specifically Yorkshire County Cricket Club is extremely disappointing and a concern for all,” said a BT Sport spokesman. 

“Given these recent events, we are reviewing and discussing our commentary plans with Cricket Australia.” 

Vaughan repeatedly denied the allegations and said on Instagram he was very “disappointed not to be commentating for TMS on the Ashes”. 

He wrote in the Telegraph: “I have been involved in cricket for 30 years and never once been accused of any remotely similar incident or disciplinary offence as a player or commentator.” 

Rafiq’s allegations have been supported by former Pakistan bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and England player Adil Rashid, who said they heard the comment. 

A fourth player in the group, Ajmal Shahzad, said he had no recollection of the event. 

Vaughan stood down from his BBC Radio 5 show this month. 

He is not involved in the BBC’s “wider coverage of the sport at the moment”. 

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There were mixed reactions online to the BBC’s decision to drop Vaughan from the Ashes. 

While some accused the BBC of “losing the plot” given there was no formal case against him, others welcomed the decision. 

Anti-racism organisation HOPE Not Hate said in a statement: “We, like so many others, have been shocked and appalled at the treatment of Azeem Rafiq during his time. The lack of transparency and action on such serious allegations of racism sets a dangerous precedent for other players from minoritised communities that may also want to come forward when they experience racism. 

“Some personnel changes to the board won’t solve the issue, only a root and branch change to the culture will be sufficient to tackle racism across the clubs’ structures.”

The organisation is launching a new cricket education project as part of a commitment to #RunRacismOut both on and off the pitch. 

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