Azeem Rafiq believes racism at Yorkshire cost him cricket career

Azeem Rafiq has said he believes he lost his cricketing career as a result of racism, as harrowing details on how slurs and discrimination affected him and his family were laid bare in front of a committee of MPs.

The whistleblower and bowler was called in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee earlier today where he was reduced to tears on a number of occasions as he recalled the incidents he experienced while a player at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

He told the hearing that the word “P***” was “used constantly” and he was left feeling “humiliated” and “isolated” during his time at Headingley.

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When asked towards the end of his evidence session - which lasted more than an hour and a half - whether he thought racism had cost him his job, 30-year-old Mr Rafiq said: “Yes I do.

Azeem Rafiq giving evidence to a committee of MPs in Parliament

“Maybe what was written for me was this. Hopefully in five years time, we are going to see a big change and I can look that I did something bigger than any runs I got or wickets I got.

“But it is horrible, it hurts.”

“All we are asking for is equality,” he added.

“To be treated fairly regardless of the colour of our skin or the religion we follow. Just respect as a human race. It’s 2021, we shouldn’t even be having this conversation.

Mr Rafiq also spoke about the strain that racism had put on his family life, sharing the support he had received from his wife and children.

He added: “We’ve got two young kids, one’s just over two and one’s about to turn one. And they’ve not had a dad really. All I’ve been worried about is Yorkshire going out to discredit me.”

Pakistani-born Mr Rafiq has played for Yorkshire since he was a teenager, before going on to captain the England under-19 squad.

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Azeem Rafiq reduced to tears as he details racism experiences at Yorkshire Count...

Asked what he would say to children in Barnsley - like him - who might have a dream to play cricket for England, Mr Rafiq said: “I can’t even imagine as a parent hearing me speak now why I would ever want my kids to go anywhere near the game.

“I don’t want my son to go anywhere near cricket.”

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.

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 the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.

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

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

“There is no ‘yeah, but’ to racism.”

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