Sajid Javid Reveals He Was Racially Abused "Almost Every Day At School"

'When I was growing up as a kid I was called P*** almost every day at school. I didn't like it then, I don't like it now.'
Sajid Javid said he did not believe the England and Wales cricket board had taken Rafiq's claims very seriously.
Sajid Javid said he did not believe the England and Wales cricket board had taken Rafiq's claims very seriously.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has revealed he was racially abused “almost every day at school” as he urged the England and Wales Cricket Board to take a “long hard look at themselves” over its handling of Azeem Rafiq’s racism allegations.

Rafiq, a former professional cricketer at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, gave a harrowing testimony of the racism he suffered in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee earlier this week, in which he described being called a “P***” and having red wine poured down his throat by colleagues.

The revelations have damaged the reputation of not just Yorkshire County Cricket Club but the sport in general.

Javid said he first learned of the claims though the leaked report from the club, which dismissed the abuse directed at Rafiq as “friendly banter”.

Asked by Sky News whether he could empathise with aspects of Rafiq’s testimony, Javid replied: “Yes, of course.

“When I first heard about this, when I really looked at it was when it was a leak of the report that the club had done on this issue, and it really just shocked me that in this day and age, the people doing this report would have these views that somehow being called P*** is just banter.

“It’s not, it never has been.

“And you ask me about personal experience — when I was growing up as a kid I was called P*** almost every day at school.

“I didn’t like it then, I don’t like it now.”

On Friday the ECB offered Rafiq an unreserved apology for the abuse he suffered and promised to take action in tackling racism in the sport.

A statement from the group said: “Azeem Rafiq has shone a light on our game that has shocked, shamed and saddened us all,” a joint statement read.

“To Azeem and all those who have experienced any form of discrimination, we are truly sorry.

“Our sport did not welcome you, our game did not accept you as we should have done. We apologise unreservedly for the suffering you have faced.”

Javid was asked whether sporting authorities such as the EBC and the Football Association could be trusted with tackling racism given the volume of complaints they had received, or whether the government should itself intervene in some way.

Javid responded by saying sporting authorities “talk the talk, but what have they actually done that’s really helping?”

He continued: “I remember when I was the culture secretary, overseeing sport in this country, I remember meeting the ECB then, about issues of racial discrimination in cricket, and they were telling me what they’re going to do.

“And look where we are now, many years later, look at what’s happening, look at what’s being uncovered.

“I don’t think the EBC has taken this issue very seriously. I think they need to take a long hard look at themselves.

“And now this is a real test for them. And, and let’s see if they can pass it.“