Ex-cricketer Rafiq tells UK lawmakers: ‘I misplaced profession to racism’


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 unbiased report discovered the Pakistan-born participant was a sufferer of “racial harassment and bullying” whereas taking part in for the county membership however stated it might 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 high directors and the membership suspended from internet hosting profitable worldwide matches.

Tuesday’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport choose committee listening to supplied Rafiq the possibility to talk with the safety of parliamentary privilege — freedom he used to recount his harrowing experiences.

“I felt, isolated, humiliated at times,” stated the 30-year-old. “Pretty early on, me and different individuals from an Asian background… there have been feedback resembling ‘you may sit over there near the bathrooms’, ‘elephant-washers’.

“The word ‘Paki’ was used constantly. And there just seemed to be an acceptance in the institution from the leaders and no one ever stamped it out.”

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The off-spinner, who stated he as soon as dreamed of taking part in for England, stated cricket was blighted by institutional racism “up and down the country”.

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 nearly 100 minutes, he spoke of the “inhuman” remedy by Yorkshire when his son was still-born in 2017.

“They weren’t really bothered about the fact that I was at training one day and I get a phone call to say there’s no heartbeat,” he stated, his voice cracking.

Rafiq, who had two spells on the membership, stated: “Do I believe I lost my career to racism? Yes, I do.”

He additionally talked about a variety of former teammates by title, 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 something Gary used to describe anyone of colour in a very derogatory manner,” he stated. “It was an open secret in the England dressing room.”

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

He additionally stated he discovered it “hurtful” that England Test 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 a good man. He never engaged in racist language,” Rafiq stated.

“I found it hurtful because Rooty was Gary (Ballance)’s housemate and had been involved in a lot of the socialising where I was called a ‘Paki’.”

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

Vaughan has “categorically” denied making the remark.

Asked about Vaughan, Rafiq stated: “Michael might not remember it… three of us, Adil, myself and Rana remember it.”

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

ECB chairman 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 will fix it fast,” he stated. “We know the survival of our sport depends on it. We will transform this game very quickly.”

But committee chairman Julian Knight, who stated Rafiq had given “harrowing personal testimony”, warned the ECB it had an enormous process on its fingers, with different gamers at Yorkshire and elsewhere additionally coming ahead with allegations of racism.

“The ECB failed to take decisive action at the outset and it is clear there is much work for it to do as a national governing body and a regulator if cricket’s tarnished reputation in this country is to be restored,” stated Knight.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman stated the proof was “concerning”, including: “There is no place for racism in sport. “There isn’t any place for racism anyplace in society.”

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