Azeem Rafiq Gives Harrowing Testimony Of Racism In Cricket

He also told how when he was 15, players pinned him down and forced red wine down his throat.
Former cricketer Azeem Rafiq giving evidence at the inquiry into racism he suffered at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee
Former cricketer Azeem Rafiq giving evidence at the inquiry into racism he suffered at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee
House of Commons via PA Media

Azeem Rafiq broke down this morning as he told MPs about the harrowing racist abuse he endured during his cricket career.

The sportsman fought back tears as he described how the word “P**i” was used “constantly” across his two spells at Yorkshire and no-one in leadership challenged it.

Rafiq, who is Muslim, also told how when he was 15 players pinned him down and forced red wine down his throat.

“I got pinned down at my local cricket club and had red wine poured down my throat, literally down my throat,” he told the digital culture media and sport committee.

“I [then] didn’t touch alcohol until about 2012 and around that time I felt I had to do that to fit in.

“I wasn’t perfect, there are things I did which I felt I had to do to achieve my dreams. I deeply regret that but it has nothing to do with racism.

“When I spoke - I should have been listened to. The game as a whole has a problem, with listening to the victim. There is no ‘yeah, but’ with racism; there is no ‘two sides’ to racism.”

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.

They finally published summary findings in September this year, finding there was “no question” Rafiq had been subjected to racial harassment and bullying. But no individuals faced disciplinary action.

Rafiq said all he wanted to do was play cricket and play for England which he described as his “dream”.

“Pretty early on, me and other people from an Asian background…there were comments such as ‘you’ll sit over there near the toilets’, ‘elephant washers’,” he told MPs.

“The word P*** was used constantly. And there just seemed to be an acceptance in the institution from the leaders and no one ever stamped it out.”

He claimed on a 2017 pre-season tour captain Gary Ballance had racially abused him.

“We were in a place and Gary Ballance walks over and goes, ‘Why are you talking to him? You know he’s a P***’. This happened in front of team-mates. It happened in front of coaching staff.”

Former England batter Ballance has admitted using a “racial slur” towards Rafiq in a lengthy statement issued earlier this month, apologising but framing it as part of a long and deep friendship.

Rafiq told the committee that was not an accurate depiction of their relationship, saying it went downhill from 2013 onwards and had become toxic by 2017.

He also said the term “Kevin” was used to describe anyone of colour in a “very derogatory manner” that was an “open secret in the England dressing room”.

Rafiq said the problem at Yorkshire was replicated “up and down the country” and at one point the committee was forced to take a break as he became visibly emotional.