‘I lost my career to racism’



Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafique burst into tears when he told British lawmakers on Tuesday that he had lost his career to racism, testifying to the widespread discrimination in the English game. What

An independent report said the Pakistani-born player had suffered “racial harassment and bullying” while playing for a county club but said it would not discipline anyone – a decision widely criticized. Welcome

Yorkshire’s response to the scandal was devastating, with sponsors suspending the club, hosting lucrative international matches, leading to mass executions, the resignation of top management.

Tuesday’s hearing by the Select Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sports gave Rafiq the opportunity to speak out in defense of parliamentary privilege – the freedom he used to share his painful experiences.

“I felt isolated, sometimes humiliated,” said the 30-year-old. “In the beginning, me and other people from Asian backgrounds … there were comments like ‘you will sit there near the toilet’, ‘elephant washers’.

“The word ‘Paki’ was constantly used. And it seemed to be accepted by the leaders in the organization and no one stamped it.”

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The off-spinner, who said he once dreamed of playing for England, said cricket was “up and down the country” because of institutional racism.

Rafiq, a Muslim, recounted a horrific experience of being “pin down” and forced to drink alcohol at the age of 15 at his local cricket club.

And in one of the most emotional parts of his testimony, which lasted about 100 minutes, he talked about “inhumane” treatment through Yorkshire when his son was born in 2017.

“They didn’t really care about the fact that I was training one day and I got a call that my heart was not beating,” he said, cracking his voice.

Rafiq, who made two spells at the club, said: “Do I believe I lost my career because of racism? Yes, I do.”

He also mentioned the names of several former teammates, talking about how former England internationals Matthew Hoggard and Gary Balance, now in Yorkshire, racially abused him. ۔

“Kevin was something Gary used to describe any color in a very insulting way.” “It was an open secret in England’s dressing room.”

Rafiq said Hoggard, the 2005 Ashes winner, had called him to apologize for his comments.

He also said he found it “painful” that England Test captain Joe Root, who has spent his career in Yorkshire, had never seen anything racist at a club in Headingley.

“Roti is a good man. He never spoke racist language,” Rafiq said.

“I found this painful because I was a family member of Roti Gari (Balance) and was involved in a lot of social work where I was called ‘Paki’.”

On Monday, current England spinner Adil Rashid, along with former Pakistan Test player Rana Naveed Al Hasan, alleged that former England captain Michael Vaughan had said in front of a group of Asian players in Yorkshire in 2009: “Many of you. There are a lot of people out there. We need to do something about it. “

Van declined to comment “explicitly.”

When asked about Van, Rafiq said: “Michael probably doesn’t remember … the three of us, Adil, me and Rana remember him.”

Rafique slammed the England and Wales Cricket Board’s review of diversification measures, saying they were examples of “box-ticking” and “tokenism”.

ECB chairman Tom Harrison, who has faced strong criticism from lawmakers, acknowledged that the organization had let Rafiq down, saying tackling racism in sports would be a top priority.

“We will fix it soon,” he said. “We know that the survival of our game depends on it. We will change that game very soon.”

But committee chairman Julian Knight, who said Rafiq had given “terrible personal testimony”, warned the ECB that he had a big job to do, with other players in Yorkshire and elsewhere also accused of racism. Coming forward with

Knight said: “The ECB initially failed to take decisive action and it is clear that if cricket’s tarnished reputation is to be restored in this country, it will have to work very hard as a national governing body and a regulator. Is.”

An official spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the evidence was “relevant”, adding that “there is no place for racism in the game.” There is no place for racism anywhere in society.

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