Azeem Rafiq reduced to tears as he details racism experiences at Yorkshire County Cricket Club

Former Yorkshire cricket player Azeem Rafiq was reduced to tears as he detailed the racism he experienced at the club, which he said went unchallenged.

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 10:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 6:48 pm

The bowler told a committee of MP’s that the word “P***” was “used constantly” and he was left feeling “humiliated” and “isolated” during his time at Headingley.

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

Mr Rafiq first alleged racial harassment and bullying against the county and accused them of institutional racism in September last year, with the club launching an investigation soon afterwards.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Screen grab from Parliament TV of former cricketer Azeem Rafiq crying as he gives evidence at the inquiry into racism he suffered at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee (Parliament TV)

However a report into the club’s handling of the allegations reportedly dismissed slurs towards Mr Rafiq as ‘banter’, which has sparked public outrage.

”P*** is not banter, racism is not banter,”' Mr Rafiq told Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee this morning. .

“The game as a whole really has a problem in listening to the victim.

Read More

Read More
Yorkshire CCC racism crisis: Live updates as Azeem Rafiq gives evidence to MPs

“It’s been gaslighting, it’s been ‘yeah but’.

“There is no 'yeah, but' to racism.”

He told Parliament: “All I wanted to do is play cricket and play for England and live my dream and live my family’s dream.”

Mr Rafiq - a Muslim - also detailed his first experience with alcohol, which came as he was “pinned down” at a local cricket club at the age of 15.

He said he “had red wine poured down my throat, literally down my throat,” he said.

“The player played for Yorkshire and Hampshire. I (then) didn’t touch alcohol until about 2012 and around that time I felt I had to do that to fit in.”

Mr Rafiq also laid out the treatment he received from senior staff following the loss of his son, describing one member of staff as “rip[ping] the shreds” off him on his first day back.

“I carried my son from the hospital to the graveyard [...] It became clear even to myself that I’d been looking the other way,” on racism, he added.

Proceedings were then adjourned for a short time when the cricketer became visibly emotional.

Former England batter and one-time Yorkshire captain Gary Ballance was also mentioned at length.

Mr Ballance admitted using a “racial slur” towards Rafiq in a lengthy statement issued earlier this month, apologising but framing it as part of a long and deep friendship.

Mr Rafiq told the committee that was not an accurate depiction of their relationship, saying it went downhill from 2013 onwards and had become toxic by 2017.

Asked by chair Julian Knight about the term ‘Kevin’, he said it was an offensive, racist term that reached the very top of the game.

“Kevin was a something Gary used to describe anyone of colour in a very derogatory manner. It was an open secret in the England dressing room,” he said.

“Anyone who came across Gary would know that was a phrase he would use to describe people of colour.”

While the focus has been on YCCC since the incidents first came to light, Mr Rafiq said that racism was a problem throughout the sport, replicated "up and down to country".

"If Yorkshire had seen this as an opportunity to become the leaders in the space, an opportunity to make a real difference in society and the game this could have gone a completely different direction," Mr Rafiq told MPs.