OVER 40 faith-based, community and equalities organisations have signed an open letter to Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) following serious allegations on institutional racism.

The letter comes in the wake of allegations made by Azeem Rafiq, a Muslim who had two stints at Headingley between 2008 and 2018 before being released and walking away from cricket.

Forty-three signatories from across West and South Yorkshire, including Bradford-based mosque Abu Bakar Masjid, JKN Institute, Raising Explores and Mary Magdalene CIC, signed the open letter, which said: "Recently, we were disturbed to hear the account of Azeem Rafiq, who claims the "institutional racism" he experienced at Yorkshire County Cricket Club left him "on the brink of suicide."

"These are serious allegations which have dealt a severe blow to the trust that BAME communities have in the Yorkshire Cricket County Club.

"A beauty of cricket is that it is a binding and unifying force between people from all faiths, races, and cultures. Our shared love of the sport is something which should unite our communities and bring us together. It should never create divisions between us.

"In this country, we believe in justice and equality for all. Therefore, we, the undersigned, call upon the Yorkshire Cricket County Club, the Yorkshire Cricket Board, and the English Cricket Board to:

• Initiate an urgent root and branch investigation into allegations made by Azeem, including an examination of racism at structural and institutional levels.

• Implement a "Zero Tolerance" policy, such as those already adopted by other sports, to ensure that racism is addressed across all interactions between both members and supporters.

• Work with mainstream grassroots organisations to develop educational and awareness programmes aimed at eliminating all forms of racism throughout the organisations themselves.

The news comes after a number of well-known businesses in Bradford threw their weight behind a petition regarding the allegations.

YCCC launched a formal investigation into Rafiq's allegations and a wider review of club policies and culture.

YCCC said: "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 took the decision to launch a formal investigation into the specific allegations made by Azeem Rafiq, and a wider review of YCCC’s policies and culture.

"We are in the process of finalising the structure of this investigation and we will be approaching impartial external parties to be part of the review to ensure complete transparency.

"We fully acknowledge that just as in many walks of life, sport, including cricket and Yorkshire as a club, must do better to fully promote a culture of zero tolerance to racism or any form of prejudice."