Azeem Rafiq: English cricket is ‘institutionally’ racist says former Yorkshire player

, Azeem Rafiq: English cricket is ‘institutionally’ racist says former Yorkshire player, The Habari News
, Azeem Rafiq: English cricket is ‘institutionally’ racist says former Yorkshire player, The Habari News
Azeem Rafiq played for Yorkshire between 2008 and 2018 and captained the county in 2012

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.

In an emotional testimony, he 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”.

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, he was pinned down by a senior player at his local cricket club and red wine was poured down his mouth
  • He said he did not drink 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

Rafiq was giving evidence to MPs after a report found he was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying” but the club said they would not discipline anyone.

Yorkshire’s former chairman Roger Hutton is talking to MPs now, with representatives from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) due to speak later.

When asked by Damian Green MP if he thought cricket was institutionally racist, Rafiq replied: “Yes, I do.”

In response to a question by Julian Knight MP, chair of the DCMS select committee, on whether the issues he faced were “replicated” at other counties, Rafiq said: “It’s a problem up and down the country.”

, Azeem Rafiq: English cricket is ‘institutionally’ racist says former Yorkshire player, The Habari News

Rafiq said that the day after his son died, Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon “ripped shreds” off him in a manner he had never seen Moxon address anyone else at the club.

He also said he was part of a group of “six or seven” players who made a complaint about former England player Tim Bresnan in 2017, after which he said the club saw him as a “trouble-maker”.

He added he was the only player of colour in that group and was “the only one to get repercussions”.

Moxon is currently absent from work because of a “stress-related illness” and Yorkshire said he “will be given the necessary support”.

BBC Sport is approaching Bresnan for comment.

Rafiq first spoke out last year, claiming “institutional racism” at Yorkshire left him close to taking his own life.

Seven of the 43 allegations were upheld by an independent panel last month and the report found he had been a victim of “racial harassment and bullying” at the club.

However, Yorkshire said they will not take disciplinary action against any player, employee or executive.

Hutton and former chief executive Mark Arthur have subsequently resigned, with Hutton’s replacement as chairman, Lord Patel, apologising “unreservedly” to Rafiq.

More to follow.