Cricketer Azeem Rafiq forced to leave Britain after speaking out about racism


British cricketer Azeem Rafiq revealed on Tuesday that he was forced to flee abroad after speaking out about the racism gripping the sport.

The former Yorkshire player told MPs in 2021 that English cricket was “institutionally” racist, and in 2020 said abuse at the club had left him close to taking his own life.

Rafiq, who said he had moved abroad and had “24/7 security” with three bodyguards provided by the sport’s national governing body, provided harrowing evidence to MPs investigating the vile abuses. in English cricket thirteen months earlier.

Rafiq is a 31-year-old Pakistani-born spinner.

“The last year has been quite challenging at times,” he told the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee.

“The impact has been quite big for me and my family,” he said.

He went on to say: “Recently (at) my family’s house, there was a guy in broad daylight who was basically going in and out of the garden talking on the phone before taking a shit, bringing a roll of toilet paper – it all seemed very planned.”

“My family and I have been kicked out of the county,” Rafiq said.

Rafiq’s revelations last year triggered a wave of dismissals at Headingley and a report which concluded that racism in cricket was “deep-seated”.

A bowler with a knocked-out right arm, Rafiq played for the county between 2008 and 2014 and 2016 and 2018, making his senior debut at the age of 17. He captained England’s under-15 and under-19 teams, and in 2012 became the youngest man to captain a Yorkshire team and the first person of Asian descent to do so.

In 2020, in an interview with Wisden’s Taha Hashim, Rafiq revealed how he experienced racism, harassment and bullying during his time playing for Yorkshire. The interview was initially about his work during the COVID-19 pandemic and his new business, but when asked about his early career by Hashim, Rafiq opened up about the racism he had encountered at the club. He spoke of having an “openly racist” captain at one point and how a senior player had once commented on the number of Asian players at the club, suggesting that “we need to have a word on that.”

In other interviews with CricInfo, the BBC and the Cricket Badger podcast, he described how he believed he had been made to feel like an “outsider” and described instances where he believed the club was institutionally racist in its approach.

He described how he had initially tried to fit into the culture within the club and had done things that “as a Muslim I now look back on and regret”, going on to describe specific instances of racist behavior and what he had done first. he reported his concerns about the behavior of people at the club in 2017, but felt he had been ignored.


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