LONDON: English cricket is “institutionally” racist, says former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq. Rafiq, 30, told a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee that racist language was “constantly” used during his time at Yorkshire.
According to a BBC report, in an emotional testimony, he also said the club gave him “inhuman” treatment after his son was still born in 2017.
He added the issues he faced at Yorkshire are “without a shadow of a doubt” widespread in domestic cricket. Rafiq said he had lost his career to racism, which is a “horrible feeling” but that “hopefully” by speaking out there will be “massive change in five years’ time”.
“All I wanted was an acceptance, an apology, an understanding, and let’s try and work together to ensure it never happens again,” he continued.
“I was not going to let this go, no matter how much damage it causes me – I was determined to become a voice for the voiceless.”
In wide-ranging testimony, Rafiq also said: “All he ever wanted to do was realise his “dream” of playing for England.
Racist language, including terms aimed at his and others’ Pakistani heritage, was used “constantly” and “never stamped out” during his time at Yorkshire
The use of such terms was racist and not “banter” as the report had concluded
It left him feeling “isolated” and “humiliated”, with racist comments made by others in front of team-mates and coaching staff but not challenged
The use of such language was so common it “became the norm” and people at the club “didn’t think it was wrong”
He “didn’t realise” and was “in denial” about the scale of the problem during most of his first spell at Yorkshire, up until 2014
He thought “things had changed” when he returned for his second spell in 2016
But the atmosphere became “toxic” after Gary Ballance took over as captain later that year, shortly after former batter Andrew Gale replaced Jason Gillespie as head coach
Aged 15 and a practising Muslim, he was pinned down by a senior player at his local cricket club and red wine was poured into his mouth
He said he did not drink alcohol again until “around 2012” when he felt he had to “to fit in” at Yorkshire
He said he “wasn’t perfect” and was “not proud” of some of the things he did and said while drinking, but these have “no relation” to the racism he was subjected to
The report into his allegations was “shoddy at best” and the panel failed to speak to key witnesses