Azeem Rafiq gives first statement in racism inquiry

Azeem Rafiq delivered his first statement last week as part of the inquiry into the alleged “institutional racism” that he experienced throughout his cricketing career.


The former off-spinner, who was due to speak directly to the panel last Friday, instead opted to issue a statement where he revealed the torrent of abuse and derogative language used against him throughout his nine seasons at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.


Rafiq added that his experiences at the club resulted in him feeling suicidal, prompting the club into conducting a formal investigation into the allegations.


The 29-year-old issued a press release, coinciding with the inquiry and demonstrating the points that were made in the original statement.


“I have spoken out about the racism I faced because I don't want kids to go through what I did,” Rafiq started.


“I want to see kids starting off their journey in cricket in a culture of acceptance and respect, where they are judged on their talent and not on their culture and identity. I hope that the investigation will result in meaningful change at the club and in the sport.


"I am grateful for the outpouring of support and words of encouragement I have received, in particular from parents who have shared their concerns about how their kids have been treated and who want to see change."


However, he has expressed his concerns about the nature of the process with anonymity not being granted to witnesses, leading to a possible deterrence of wanting to speak out on the issue.


Rafiq’s first experience of racism occurred when he was only 15 years old at Barnsley Cricket Club, where claims he was “pinned down” and “forced to drink” wine despite his wishes against doing so due to being a practicing Muslim.


Yorkshire CCC told BBC Sport in a statement: “Racism has no place in our society or in cricket and we are hopeful that the outcome of this investigation and the recommendations of the panel will drive positive progress which can be shared by all.”


They added: “We have taken the claims made by our former player, Azeem Rafiq, very seriously and a full investigation conducted by Squire Patton Boggs, an independent law firm, began in September.


“Mr Rafiq's written statement was made available last week and he will give further verbal evidence today. These statements will then be made available to the club to provide a response to as part of the next phase of the process.


“We realise that that this is a difficult time for all parties involved but it is important that these matters are investigated thoroughly and swiftly.


“In addition and recognising that this process is as much about the future as it is the past, we have convened an independent panel to support the investigation and to publish recommendations on steps the club may need to take as a result of the investigation's findings.”


Rafiq played 169 games for Yorkshire across all formats, taking 217 wickets and scoring over 1,000 runs, including a first-class century, before being released by the county in 2018.


Rafiq played 169 times for Yorkshire, in which he took 217 wickets and scored over 1,000 runs. He was announced as the club’s academy player of the year in 2008 and 2012, he captained Yorkshire in a Twenty20 match against Durham, formalising himself as the youngest captain in the county’s history.



Author: Jake Wilkin


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