Yorkshire contact Rafiq over racism claim

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A former England youth captain, Azeem Rafiq captained Yorkshire in a Twenty20 fixture in 2012
A former England youth captain, Azeem Rafiq captained Yorkshire in a Twenty20 fixture in 2012

Ex-Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq has claimed that “institutional racism” at the club left him close to taking his own life.

Yorkshire have said they are in contact with Rafiq, who left the club in 2018 and no longer plays professionally.

“I was living my family’s dream as a professional cricketer, but inside I was dying,” he said.

“I know how close I was [to taking his own life] during my time at Yorkshire.

“I was dreading going to work. I was in pain every day. There were times I did things to try and fit in that, as a Muslim, I now look back on and regret. I’m not proud of it at all.

“But as soon as I stopped trying to fit in, I was an outsider. Do I think there is institutional racism? It’s at its peak in my opinion. It’s worse than it’s ever been.”

In response, Yorkshire said in a statement issued to BBC Sport: “The club has an Equality and Diversity Committee, chaired by board member Hanif Malik. Hanif is in contact with Azeem about the allegations and will report back to the committee.”

Despite meeting the club, Rafiq is sceptical as to whether meaningful change will happen following his experiences.

“Yorkshire don’t want to listen and they don’t want to change,” he added.

“And part of the reason for that is the people who were involved in the incidents I’m talking about are still at the club. They just want to sweep it under the carpet.

“But not this time. Not again. I know what I’m doing here. I know that by speaking out I’m damaging my chances of working in the game again.

“But I also know it’s the right thing to do and if I have to stand alone to do it, I will.”

  • For information and support on mental health and suicide, access the BBC Action Line.

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