‘I misplaced my profession to racism’

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq fought again tears as he instructed British lawmakers he had misplaced his profession to racism, detailing widespread discrimination inside the English sport in compelling testimony.

A video seize from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) reveals former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq preventing again tears whereas testifying in entrance of a Digital, Tradition, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee in London on 16 November 2021 as MPs probe racial harassment on the membership. Image: AFP

LONDON – Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq fought again tears as he instructed British lawmakers on Tuesday he had misplaced his profession to racism, detailing widespread discrimination inside the English sport in compelling testimony.

An impartial report discovered the Pakistan-born participant was a sufferer of “racial harassment and bullying” whereas enjoying for the county membership however mentioned it will not self-discipline anyone – a call greeted with widespread disbelief.

The fallout for Yorkshire over the scandal has been devastating, with sponsors making a mass exodus, resignations from prime directors and the membership suspended from internet hosting profitable worldwide matches.

Tuesday’s Digital, Tradition, Media and Sport choose committee listening to provided Rafiq the prospect to talk with the safety of parliamentary privilege – a freedom he used to recount his harrowing experiences.

“I felt, remoted, humiliated at instances,” mentioned the 30-year-old. “Fairly early on, me and different individuals from an Asian background… there have been feedback corresponding to ‘you will sit over there close to the bogs’, ‘elephant-washers’.

“The phrase ‘Paki’ was used consistently. And there simply appeared to be an acceptance within the establishment from the leaders and nobody ever stamped it out.”

The off-spinner, who mentioned he as soon as dreamed of enjoying for England, mentioned cricket was blighted by institutional racism “up and down the nation”.


Rafiq, who’s a Muslim, additionally recounted a daunting expertise of being “pinned down” and compelled to drink alcohol on the age of 15 when he was at his native cricket membership.

And in an extremely emotional section of his proof, which lasted practically 100 minutes, he spoke of the “inhuman” remedy by Yorkshire when his son was still-born in 2017.

“They weren’t actually bothered about the truth that I used to be at coaching someday and I get a cellphone name to say there is no heartbeat,” he mentioned, his voice cracking.

Rafiq, who had two spells on the membership, mentioned: “Do I consider I misplaced my profession to racism? Sure, I do.”

He additionally talked about quite a few former teammates by identify, talking about how ex-England internationals Matthew Hoggard and Gary Ballance, the latter nonetheless at Yorkshire, had used racial slurs in direction of him.

“‘Kevin’ was one thing Gary used to explain anybody of color in a really derogatory method,” he mentioned. “It was an open secret within the England dressing room.”

Rafiq mentioned 2005 Ashes winner Hoggard had phoned him to apologise for the feedback he had made.

He additionally mentioned he discovered it “hurtful” that England Check captain Joe Root, who has spent his profession at Yorkshire, had by no means witnessed something of a racist nature on the Headingley-based membership.

“Rooty is an efficient man. He by no means engaged in racist language,” Rafiq mentioned.

“I discovered it hurtful as a result of Rooty was Gary (Ballance)’s housemate and had been concerned in plenty of the socialising the place I used to be referred to as a ‘Paki’.”

On Monday, present England spinner Adil Rashid joined ex-Pakistan Check participant Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in alleging that former England captain Michael Vaughan had mentioned in entrance of a bunch of Yorkshire gamers of Asian ethnicity in 2009: “Too lots of you lot, we have to do one thing about it.”

Vaughan has “categorically” denied making the remark.

Requested about Vaughan, Rafiq mentioned: “Michael won’t bear in mind it… three of us, Adil, myself and Rana bear in mind it.”

Rafiq was scathing in his evaluation of range initiatives by the England and Wales Cricket Board, saying they have been examples of “box-ticking” and “tokenism”.

ECB chairperson Tom Harrison, who confronted an intense grilling from the MPs, admitted the organisation had let Rafiq down, saying tackling racism within the sport could be a precedence.

“We’ll repair it quick,” he mentioned. “We all know the survival of our sport is determined by it. We’ll rework this sport in a short time.”

However committee chairperson Julian Knight, who mentioned Rafiq had given “harrowing private testimony”, warned the ECB it had an enormous job on its fingers, with different gamers at Yorkshire and elsewhere additionally coming ahead with allegations of racism.

“The ECB did not take decisive motion on the outset and it’s clear there’s a lot work for it to do as a nationwide governing physique and a regulator if cricket’s tarnished repute on this nation is to be restored,” mentioned Knight.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman mentioned the proof was “regarding”, including: “There is no such thing as a place for racism in sport. “There is no such thing as a place for racism anyplace in society.”


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