Azeem Rafiq ‘humiliated’ by alleged racist abuse at UK cricket club

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Azeem Rafiq of Yorkshire takes a catch during a Champions League T20 match against Chennai Super Kings at the Kingsmead stadium in Durban, on October 22, 2012.


Former cricketer Azeem Rafiq told a British parliamentary hearing on Tuesday that he “felt humiliated” by alleged racist abuse and bullying he suffered at Yorkshire Cricket Club.

Rafiq said his former teammates used racial slurs and offensive terms to refer to his Pakistani heritage, and the leadership of England’s most successful cricket club failed to act on the racism.

“Pretty early on, me and other people from an Asian background, there were comments such as ‘You lot sit over there, near the toilets,’ ‘Elephant washers’, and the word ‘P***’ was used constantly. And there just seemed to be an acceptance in the institution from the leaders and no one stamped it out,” he said.

Rafiq, a former England Under-19 captain, said he felt “isolated” and “humiliated at times” by his treatment at the club from 2008 to 2018.

Yorkshire said last month that it would not take any disciplinary action against any of its employees, players, or executives, despite a report that found Rafiq was the victim of racial harassment and bullying.

The former cricketer told legislators the club was talking about promoting him to the role of captain before he reported his concerns in 2017.

The board then allegedly said that Rafiq was “a problem, a troublemaker and an issue that needs to be resolved”.

That followed a 2017 pre-season tour when Rafiq said he suffered abuse from a teammate in front of others.

“Gary Ballance walks over and goes ‘Why are you talking to him? You know he’s a P***’ or ‘He’s not a sheikh, he’s got no oil’,” Rafiq recalled.

Two weeks ago, Ballance admitted to using racial slurs against Rafiq when they were teammates at Yorkshire, but said: “This was a situation where best friends said offensive things to each other which, outside of that context, would be considered wholly inappropriate.”

A formal investigation was commissioned by Yorkshire in September 2020 into 43 allegations made by Rafiq, with seven of them upheld in a report released only in September under pressure from the lawmakers staging the hearing on Tuesday.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has suspended the from hosting international matches over its “wholly unacceptable” response to the racism faced by Rafiq.

The chairman and chief executive of Yorkshire resigned this month.


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