Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq driven out of the country after experiencing rampant racism
Azeem Rafiq (Image by Sky News)
British Asian cricketer Azeem Rafiq has said that the sport is still “in denial” over the rampant racism that still exists, which has driven him and his family out of the country.
The former Yorkshire spinner appeared before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday, more than a year after he came forward to inform the world about the racism he had to face when he was playing for Yorkshire.
Rafiq took the opportunity to inform the committee about the racism he and his family had to endure after he raised his voice about the abuse he had to suffer in the sport. As a result of this, he had to relocate to Pakistan last month.
He stated, “If I was to look at 13 months on from me opening my heart out, all that’s changed really is that me and my family have been driven out of the country. And that’s a sad element of it.”
The 31-year-old recalled various abusive incidents that had occurred over the last year, including one where a man defecated in front of his parents’ house.
He said, “I would love to come here and tell you how much cricket has changed, but unfortunately what it feels like is that cricket is very much in denial.
“There are still a group of people out there who feel like cricket is the victim in this.
“The way I’ve been attacked and abused, why would you speak out? I’ve got a little hope in the new (ECB) leadership, but it’s very little at the minute.”
Yorkshire County Cricket Club chair Lord Kamlesh Patel, who also appeared in front of the committee revealed that England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)’s was taking a “flawed” approach as a regulator.
“In an ideal world, an independent regulator would be excellent,” he informed.
Lord Kamlesh Patel (Image by Sky News)
Lord Patel continued, “I suppose if I am realistic, the time it would take to put in primary legislation, to set up a system, we’d end up navel-gazing for years. But should the CDC (Cricket Discipline Commission) and the ECB change? Absolutely.”
He also mentioned that the ECB was indifferent when he asked for support.
He said, “I asked in writing, and I have email after email, letter after letter, saying ‘you asked me to do this, I’ve done this, please support me’ and I have no response to any of those letters and emails. So it was very distressing.”
“I’m looking forward to the new leadership of Richard Thompson, the few meetings I’ve had with him have been positive and it feels like it’s going forward, but these last 12 months, the answer has to be ‘no’.”