YORKSHIRE: The allegation of this nature is ‘hugely concerning’, said Yorkshire Cricket on Thursday after the former England U-19 spinner Azeem Rafiq claimed he was close to committing suicide because of the racism he faced within the club.
“I know how close I was to committing suicide during my time at Yorkshire. I was living my family’s dream as a professional cricketer, but inside I was dying. I was dreading going to work. I was in pain every day,” ESPNcricinfo had quoted Rafiq as saying.
Addressing the issue, Yorkshire’s chairman Roger Hutton in a statement said that the club on Monday took the decision to launch a ‘formal investigation’ into the specific allegations made by Rafiq.
“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. On Monday this week 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,” Hutton said in a statement.
“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. Further announcements will be made to detail this process in the coming days,” he added.
The player had also alleged that he felt like an outsider in the side as there was nobody from a similar background.
“There were times I did things to try and fit in that, as a Muslim, I now look back on and regret. I’m not proud of it at all. But as soon as I stopped trying to fit in, I was an outsider. There were no coaches on the staff from a similar background who understood what it was like,” Rafiq had said.
Hutton said since 2014, they have prioritised community engagement with numerous groups but it is ‘work in progress.’
“Since 2014 we have prioritised community engagement with numerous groups right across the county, and across many cultures and ethnicities. While as an organisation we have made real efforts to that end, we are not perfect and it is a work in progress,” he said.
Hutton further stated, “We have tried to make contact with Azeem this week to discuss his experiences, and will make further contact in the weeks ahead as it is important that we hear his grievances in as much detail as possible.”
“The future direction of our organisation’s culture will be best-shaped with the understanding and the input of players, staff, and supporters from all minorities and genders, and we will continue this process with the formal investigation that will start in a matter of days and be conducted thoroughly, impartially, and with urgency.” (ANI)