Azeem Rafiq predicts ‘hundreds and thousands’ could share experiences of racism in cricket

Rafiq rocked the sport with a damning parliamentary appearance in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday

Rory Dollard
Wednesday 17 November 2021 15:09
‘It’s scary’: Azeem Rafiq says English cricket rife with racism

Azeem Rafiq believes “hundreds and thousands” of cricketers could follow his lead by sharing experiences of racism in the game and warned Yorkshire cannot move forward until Andrew Gale and Martyn Moxon have left the club.

Rafiq rocked the sport with a damning parliamentary appearance in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee, during which he outlined in disturbing detail his own experiences of racial harassment and discrimination.

He made several fresh allegations against high-profile individuals, including ex-England players Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan, Matthew Hoggard and Alex Hales, and expects the spotlight he has attracted to encourage others to speak up in their droves.

He told Sky Sports News: “I think you’re going to get it into the hundreds and thousands, possibly. I do feel it’s going to be a little bit of ‘floodgates’ and a lot of victims of abuse are going to come forward.”

Rafiq, who battled tears on several occasions during Tuesday’s testimony as he outlined how he fought depression and thoughts of suicide, said he felt an element of “closure” after his appearance, but the same may not be true for those he has accused.

He now wants more departures at Yorkshire, following that of former chair Roger Hutton, whose showing at the DCMS committee was described by Rafiq as “very weak”, and chief executive Mark Arthur.

Rafiq specifically believes Gale, who is currently suspended as head coach pending investigation over a historic tweet, and director of cricket Moxon, who is signed off work with a stress-related illness, are in untenable positions.

Both featured heavily in his allegations, with Gale accused of constant racial abuse and Moxon of systematic bullying, including on Rafiq’s first day back after the stillbirth of his son.

“I don’t think Martyn and Andrew can (continue),” said Rafiq. “I don’t think it’s possible for Yorkshire to move forward with them in there, with them knowing full well what role they played in that institution.”

Neither man took up the chance to give their own evidence in Westminster, with Rafiq concluding: “They had an opportunity yesterday to come down here under parliamentary privilege to get their side of the story across and they didn’t.”

Rafiq gave evidence to the DCMS on Tuesday

Asked if the duo, or Ballance, had made contact to apologise, Rafiq added: “No, and I don’t expect them to be. I still don’t think any of them think they’ve done anything wrong, which shows them for what they are.”

David Lloyd, the former England batter, head coach and Sky commentator, did pick up phone after it transpired he had exchanged disparaging comments about Rafiq in private.

“He rang me last night and I told him honestly what I thought about his comments, they were completely out of order,” explained Rafiq.

“But the overriding thing was he rang, he apologised, I accepted the apology. Anyone that apologises... that’s all I ever wanted.”

While Rafiq sees no way back for Moxon and Gale, he suggested he could envisage Ballance being part of Yorkshire’s new era – provided he acts accordingly.

Ballance has admitted using “racial slurs” against Rafiq, who says he routinely used phrases including “P***”, “Raffa the Kaffir” and called all people of colour “Kevin” in derogatory fashion.

Rafiq said: “I think Gary – if he apologises properly, has some sort of acceptance – I feel he should be given some sort of accountability, whatever that may be. I think he should be allowed to play.”

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