Former Yorkshire Cricketer Azeem Rafiq fought back the tears when he told British lawmakers on Tuesday that he had “lost my career due to racism”, which outlined widespread discrimination within the English game in an emotional testimony. An independent report found the Pakistan-born player was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying” while playing for the district club, with Rafiq himself revealing that he was driven to suicidal thoughts. Although Yorkshire apologized, saying they would not take any disciplinary action against any staff – a decision the former player told MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee “disturbed” him.
“I sometimes felt isolated, humiliated,” Rafiq told the London hearing. “Very early on, me and other people from an Asian background … there were remarks like ‘you will sit there near the toilets’, ‘elephant washers’.
“The word ‘Paki’ was used constantly. And there was just an acceptance in the institution by the leaders and no one ever shouted it out.”
Rafiq, who is a Muslim, also told of a horrific experience of being forced to drink alcohol at the age of 15 as a club player in Yorkshire.
“I pinned down at my local cricket club and red wine was poured down my throat, literally down my throat,” he said.
Rafiq, whose wife gave birth to a stillborn child in 2018, added that his two young children “did not really have a father, because all I was worried about was that Yorkshire was going after me … I just hope that today is a kind of closure. “
His voice, which broke again towards the end of his testimony, said the 30-year-old Rafiq, who had been to the club twice, “Do I believe I lost my career due to racism? Yes, I do.”
And Rafiq warned that racial prejudice within English cricket is not just an issue at Yorkshire, saying it is being repeated “up and down the country”.
“I got messages from people who played at Leicestershire, a guy who played at Middlesex, messages from people who played at Nottinghamshire,” he said.
He described diversity initiatives by the English and Wales Cricket Board as examples of “box-typing” and “tokenism”.
The outburst for Yorkshire – one of England’s most successful and historic clubs – over the scandal was swift and devastating.
Sponsors withdrew and the club was suspended to host lucrative international matches.
Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton and CEO Mark Arthur both resigned, with head coach Andrew Gale suspended for using a racial slur.
Subsequent allegations of racism were made by other players, which sparked further investigations into Yorkshire and other clubs as the scandal spread over English cricket.
Current English spinner Adil Rashid joined former Pakistani Test player Rana Naved-ul-Hasan on Monday, claiming that former English Test captain Michael Vaughan said in front of a group of Yorkshire players of Asian ethnicity in 2009: “Too much of you a lot, we need to do something about it. “
Vaughan “categorically” denied making the comment.
Asked about Vaughan, Rafiq said: “Michael may not remember it … three of us, Adil, me and Rana remember it.
“He clearly had a snippet of my statement. He used his platform at the Daily Telegraph to tell everyone that he did not say these things. To go ahead and put out a snippet of my statement and talking about other things, I thought was completely wrong. “
Kamlesh Patel, chairman of New Yorkshire, told the committee he was prepared to make “whatever decisions I have to make”.
“This is an organization that has been hammered left, right and in the middle, perhaps for the right reasons,” he said.
“Changes will have to be made and it will not be overnight, but we must continue, very fast and very hard.”
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