Azeem Rafiq tells MPs that ‘inhuman’ racist abuse cost him cricket career | Cricket

Azeem Rafiq broke down in tears in entrance of MPs as he laid naked the racism, bullying and “inhuman” remedy he confronted at Yorkshire cricket, which even prolonged to a senior membership official “ripping the shreds” off him simply after he was informed his child had no heartbeat.

Over practically two hours of devastating and uncooked testimony to the digital, tradition, media and sport choose committee, Rafiq delivered a damning verdict on the tradition of English cricket. He agreed that it was “institutionally racist” and stated it wanted to withstand an institutional racism drawback “up and down the nation”, with gamers of Pakistani heritage nonetheless being referred to as the P-word and British Asian illustration in cricket dropping by 40% since 2010.

Rafiq stated racism had seeped into the England dressing room, the place it was an “open secret” that the England and Yorkshire participant Gary Ballance used the phrase “Kevin” as a derogatory phrase for black and Asian gamers. Rafiq understood that one other England participant, Alex Hales, had later named his canine Kevin because it was black.

At one level the committee needed to break for a number of minutes after the Pakistan-born Rafiq, who’s Muslim, struggled with the feelings of recounting painful experiences, which included being pressured to drink alcohol when he was 15.

“I obtained pinned down at my native cricket membership and had pink wine poured down my throat, actually down my throat,” the 30-year-old stated. “The participant performed for Yorkshire and Hampshire. I then didn’t contact alcohol till about 2012 and round that time I felt I needed to do that to slot in.”

In a collection of extraordinary exchanges, Rafiq informed MPs that he had confronted repeated racist feedback from senior gamers all through two spells at Yorkshire between 2008 and 2018 however the membership had accomplished nothing to cease it.

“There have been feedback comparable to, ‘You lot sit there close to the bathrooms’, ‘Elephant washers’,” he claimed. “The phrase Paki was used continually. And there simply appeared to be an acceptance within the establishment from the leaders and nobody stamped it out.”

Rafiq stated racism was rife throughout cricket. He cited one participant being referred to as a “bomber” and Maurice Chambers’s expertise of “monkey” and “banana” jibes at Essex. “I’ve had messages from Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire,” he informed MPs. “Some are nonetheless scared, some ask whether it is racism? One recurrence is that ‘Paki’ is widespread.”

A 57-page witness assertion, a part of Rafiq’s submission to an employment tribunal and printed by the DCMS choose committee, went into excruciating element about Rafiq’s experiences – which alleged listening to racist remarks from a number of different former Yorkshire and England gamers, together with Tim Bresnan, Matthew Hoggard, and sustained abuse and bullying from Ballance and the previous Yorkshire coach and captain Andrew Gale.

After Rafiq’s proof Bresnan “apologised unreservedly” in a press release issued by way of his present county, Warwickshire, “for any half I performed in contributing to Azeem Rafiq’s expertise of feeling bullied at Yorkshire”.

Ballance has beforehand admitted utilizing a racial slur however claimed it was a part of pleasant exchanges between the pair. That was disputed by Rafiq, a former England Below-19 captain, who added that the membership’s lack of motion left him feeling “remoted and humiliated”.

Azeem Rafiq says Yorkshire's Gary Ballance used name Kevin for 'any player of colour' – video
Azeem Rafiq says Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance used title Kevin for ‘any participant of color’ – video

Rafiq stated that Yorkshire’s perspective to him modified the second after he and 6 or seven different gamers made complaints accusing Bresnan of bullying in 2017, however Rafiq stated he was the one one singled out for being a troublemaker.

Quickly afterwards, Rafiq’s son was stillborn however he informed the committee that as a substitute of exhibiting him compassion the membership’s director of cricket Martyn Moxon, the previous England and Yorkshire participant, had verbally gone for him. “The primary day again after dropping my son, Moxon actually obtained me in a room and ripped the shreds off me,” he claimed. “I’ve by no means seen him converse to anybody like that on the membership.”

Struggling to talk as recalled how he had informed them he had felt suicidal, Rafiq stated: “Among the membership officers have been inhuman. They weren’t actually bothered concerning the reality that I used to be at coaching at some point and I obtained a telephone name to say there’s no heartbeat.”

Moxon, who has been signed off with stress, and Mark Arthur, Yorkshire’s former chief government, face extreme criticism within the Yorkshire report over obvious inaction after Rafiq subsequently reported his file of racism claims in 2018.

Rafiq additionally claimed he was abused by Ballance on a number of events, together with on a pre-season tour in 2017. “We have been in a spot and Gary Ballance walks over and goes: ‘Why are you speaking to him? You recognize he’s a Paki.’ He’s not a sheikh, he’s obtained no oil. This occurred in entrance of teammates. It occurred in entrance of the teaching workers.”

Ballance additionally used the phrase “Kevin” as a time period of abuse, together with whereas on England obligation, Rafiq alleged. “Kevin was one thing Gary used to explain anybody of color, it was an open secret within the England dressing room. It was utilized in a derogatory method on a regular basis,” he stated. He stated Hales had gone on to call his canine Kevin because it was black. “It’s disgusting how a lot of a joke it was.”

Rafiq additionally admitted that he was stung by the England captain Joe Root’s feedback that he had by no means seen any racism in Yorkshire cricket. “Rootie is an effective man,” he stated. “He’s by no means engaged in racist language. I discovered it hurtful, as a result of he was not solely Gary’s housemate however he was concerned earlier than he began taking part in for England in a whole lot of evening’s out the place I’ve been referred to as ‘Paki’. He won’t keep in mind it, but it surely simply exhibits our regular it was in that surroundings, in that establishment, that folks don’t keep in mind. However it’s one thing I keep in mind, day by day.”

Rafiq stated that many within the sport had tried to discredit him after he started talking out, together with from the previous England coach and Sky Sports activities commentator, David Lloyd.

On Tuesday Lloyd admitted referring to allegations about Rafiq and in addition making “feedback concerning the Asian cricket neighborhood”. He stated: “I deeply remorse my actions, and I apologise most sincerely to Azeem and to the Asian cricket neighborhood for doing this, and for any offence brought on.”

In his proof to MPs the previous Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton, who resigned on 5 November, was requested whether or not he thought the membership was institutionally racist. “I concern that it falls throughout the definition,” he stated.

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The chief government of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Tom Harrison, stated his message to cricket supporters was: “We all know we could have allow you to down. We’ll repair it quick. We all know the survival of our sport will depend on it.”

Rafiq informed the committee: “I don’t need my son to go wherever close to cricket. The sport as an entire has an issue, with listening to the sufferer. There is no such thing as a ‘yeah, however’ with racism; there is no such thing as a ‘two sides’ to racism.”

In direction of the top of his extraordinary and highly effective testimony, Rafiq was requested whether or not he believed he misplaced his career because of racism. “Sure I do,” was his pained reply, earlier than daring to dream of higher days forward. “It’s horrible. However I’m an enormous believer in that every thing occurs for a cause. And hopefully in 5 years’ time we’re going to see a giant change.”

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