LONDON (AP) – Former cricketer Azim Rafiq said in a tearful British parliamentary hearing on Tuesday that he was humiliated by the racist abuse and bullying at England’s most successful cricket club.
Rafiq said Yorkshire team-mates used an offensive term in reference to his Pakistani heritage, and the 33-time English County Championship winner failed to act on racism.
“Long ago, me and others from Asian backgrounds,” Rafiq told the House of Commons selection committee that oversees the game, “there were comments like, ‘You sit there by the toilet,’ ‘the hand-washers’. . The word P(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) was used continuously. And it seemed that the institution had the approval of the leaders and no one had stamped it. ,
Former England Under-19 captain Rafiq said he felt “isolated, humiliated” by his treatment at Yorkshire during two spells he played for the club from 2008 to 2018.
The England and Wales Cricket Board has suspended Yorkshire from hosting international matches over the “totally unacceptable” reaction to the racism faced by Rafiq.
Yorkshire said last month that it would not take any disciplinary action against any of its employees, players or officials, after a report found Rafiq to be the victim of racial harassment and bullying.
Rafiq told legislators he was being spoken to as Yorkshire captain before reporting his concerns in 2017. Rafiq then said that the board minutes said he was “a problem, a troubleshooter and an issue that needs to be resolved.”
This was followed by the 2017 preseason tour when Rafiq said he suffered abuse in front of others by a teammate.
“Gary Balance walks over and goes, ‘Why are you talking to him? You know he’s a P(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk).’ Or, ‘He’s not a sheikh, he doesn’t have any oil,'” Rafiq recalled.
Two weeks ago, Balance, a former England cricketer, admitted to using racial slurs against Rafiq when they were teammates in Yorkshire, but added, “It was a situation where best friends were a- used to say objectionable things to the other, which would be out of context. Totally inappropriate.”
A formal investigation was launched by Yorkshire in September 2020 into 43 allegations made by Rafiq, seven of which were upheld in a report released in September under pressure from MPs who staged a hearing on Tuesday.
At one point the committee had to break up for several minutes after Rafiq struggled with the emotions of recounting traumatic experiences.
Pakistan-born Rafiq, who is a Muslim, described his first experience of alcoholism at the age of 15 after being asked about his drinking.
“I was stuck at my local cricket club and had red wine poured down my throat, literally down my throat,” said 30-year-old Rafiq. “The player played for Yorkshire and Hampshire. I didn’t touch alcohol until (then) about 2012 and around that time I felt I had to do it to get fit.
“I wasn’t perfect. There are some things I did that I felt I had to do to achieve my dreams. I deeply regret it but it has nothing to do with racism. My point was when I spoke Should have been heard. With listening to the victim, there’s a problem at play. With racism there are no ‘yes, buts’; there are no ‘two sides’ to racism.”
Yorkshire’s chairman and chief executive resigned this month.
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