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Yorkshire club cricket official denies accusations of racism over 'offensive' social media post

Comment by chair of Barnsley Woolley Miners CC reported to Yorkshire Cricket Southern Premier League

George Dobell
George Dobell
Azeem Rafiq called comments by Barnsley Woolley Miners chair Phillip Chapman "demeaning"  •  Getty Images

Azeem Rafiq called comments by Barnsley Woolley Miners chair Phillip Chapman "demeaning"  •  Getty Images

New concerns about the culture of cricket in Yorkshire have emerged after "disgraceful" comments made by a leading official in the recreational game on social media.
Reacting to the news that Darfield Cricket Club had signed Kastun Stoute, a top-order batter from Barbados, as an overseas player, Phillip Chapman replied: "I'm sure he sold me some sunglasses with flashing lights in Tenerife!!"
Chapman is chair of Barnsley Woolley Miners CC and has worked in the Yorkshire system as a pathway coach and team manager. His comment received a laughing emoji from Roy Chapman, who has also worked as a pathway manager and coach in the Yorkshire system.
Others were far less impressed. The comments were quickly branded "disgraceful", "vile" and "disgusting". Chapman subsequently deleted the post.
Darfield Cricket Club confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that they have reported their concerns to the Yorkshire Cricket Southern Premier League and are understood to have vowed not to let Chapman set foot on their property.
Barnsley Woolley Miners CC were previously called Barnsley CC. The likes of Geoffrey Boycott, Darren Gough, Dickie Bird and Martyn Moxon all developed through the club. The journalist and broadcaster Michael Parkinson also played for them.
While Chapman admitted his comments were, in retrospect, "clumsy" and apologised "if someone found it offensive", he denied any suggestion of racism. He also clarified that his comments were made in a personal capacity and not as a spokesperson for the club.
"My best friend is black," Chapman told ESPNcricinfo. "And my wife is Eastern-European. There's no way I'm racist.
"I'm sorry if someone found it offensive. On reflection, I can see it was clumsy. But I was making a joke about sunglasses, not about the colour of his skin. If he had been white, I'd have said he looked like Elton John.
"Do we live in a time when you're not allowed to have a sense of humour anymore? It seems that whatever anyone says, the race card is played."
The incident comes at a time when the culture of cricket in the region is under scrutiny. A much delayed enquiry into the issue, sparked by Azeem Rafiq's allegations of racism at Yorkshire, is expected to report within the next three weeks.
ESPNcricinfo has seen some submissions to the enquiry. Among them is an allegation from Rafiq, the former Yorkshire captain, that as a 15-year-old player at Barnsley he was held down and had red wine poured into his mouth. His account is supported by an independent eyewitness.
"The worrying thing for me is that Mr Chapman doesn't seem to realise the problem with these comments," Rafiq told ESPNcricinfo.
"He doesn't seem to realise they are demeaning. He doesn't seem to realise that one person's banter is another person's demise. He doesn't realise how black or Asian kids growing up around Barnsley will see these words and conclude the club isn't a welcoming environment for them. He just doesn't get it and you can't have a person like that involved in a position of authority.
"And think about this: if people have the confidence to say these things on social media, what do you think they say when nobody is watching? I hope the league step in and if they don't, I hope the ECB takes action."
Stoute made 98 on debut on Saturday to help his new side to victory over Wakefield Thornes.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo