After being dropped from the BBC’s coverage panel for upcoming five-match Ashes series after his name surfaced in a racism controversy involving former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq, former England captain Michael Vaughan denied the allegations and said that he wants to make cricket “a more welcoming sport for all”.
Significantly, Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq had alleged that Vaughan had asked him and two other players of Asian origin that there were “too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” before a match in 2009 following which Vaughan was on Wednesday sacked from the coverage panel of BBC.
“While he is involved in a significant story in cricket, for editorial reasons we do not believe that it would be appropriate for Vaughan to have a role in our Ashes team or wider coverage of the sport at the moment,” the BBC said in a statement.
“We require our contributors to talk about relevant topics and his involvement in the Yorkshire story represents a conflict of interest” it added.
Later, Vaughan expressed disappointment on being dropped from the BBC’s Ashes coverage abd said he ‘wants to be part of the solution’ and help make cricket “a more welcoming sport for all”.
Reacting to BBC’s decision via social a media post, Vaughan said: “Very disappointed not to be commentating for TMS (BBC Test Match Special) on the Ashes and will miss working with great colleagues and friends, but looking forward to being behind the mic for Fox Cricket in Australia.”
“The issues facing cricket are bigger than any individual case and I want to be part of the solution, listening, educating myself, and helping to make it a more welcoming sport for all,” he added.
Meanwhile, Vaughan wrote in his Daily Telegraph column that he “completely and categorically denies” making the comment and insisted he is not racist.
“I categorically deny saying the words attributed to me by Azeem Rafiq and want to re-state this publicly because the ‘you lot’ comment simply never happened,” he wrote.
Vaughan, who has been an analyst with the BBC since 2009, was also dropped from a radio show by the broadcaster earlier this month after the allegations came to light.
The five-Test Ashes series between England and hosts Australia will begin in Brisbane on December 8.
Significantly, the racism scandal that has hit the English cricket recently saw former players at Essex claiming that they suffered racist abuse at the county club.
Following the allegations, one of Essex’s principal sponsors — training and skills provider Seetec — recently announced to suspend its ties with the team “with immediate effect.”
“Any form of racism should not be tolerated. We encourage sports clubs to work with their local community to celebrate diversity and work at all levels to root out racism, wherever it manifests,” a spokesperson for Seetec told Reuters.