Azeem Rafiq details Racism to DCMS Committee

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq detailed the racist abuse he was subjected to before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Azeem Rafiq details Racism to DCMS Committee f

"I don't know what and I started to take medication."

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq appeared before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee to give evidence in relation to the racist abuse he suffered.

Rafiq previously detailed that he was bullied and racially abused during his two spells at the club as well as the issues at clubs across the UK.

While a report found he was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying”, Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) said they would not discipline anyone.

This caused widespread condemnation and it has led to several figures resigning, including Chairman Roger Hutton.

Azeem Rafiq has now detailed what he went through whilst at the club and their subsequent “denial” when he raised issues.

In front of the committee, Rafiq explained that when he first joined the club, the dressing room was full of 2005 Ashes “heroes” such as Michael Vaughan and Matthew Hoggard.

However, Rafiq revealed that comments such as “elephant washers” and “p***” were regularly made towards him and others.

He added: “Something was wrong. I don’t know what and I started to take medication.”

On Gary Ballance, Rafiq said that he would regularly make racial slurs in front of players and staff.

Rafiq said: “When he came to the club from Derby I saw in him what I saw in myself, as an outsider.

“A lot of players called Gary things that were completely out of order, but it was such a norm that no-one said anything.”

Rafiq said that their friendship began to deteriorate in 2013 due to Ballance’s conduct.

“At one point his behaviour around his personal relationships was so disgusting that I raised it with an agent that we shared.

“After that we were amicable but we never shared the same relationship.”

“The last couple of weeks some individuals have had a tough time but I didn’t intend it to be like that. That is what the club, lawyers and panel have tried to do.

“Racism is not banter, for three people of colour on the panel, and for one to come out with an article and stands by it shows the scale of the problem.”

Gary Ballance had released a statement on the matter, saying that he regretted his actions.

However, Rafiq stated that the abuse was “humiliating” and it left him “isolated”.

He also said that Ballance used the name ‘Kevin’ in a derogatory way towards all people of colour.

He went on to say that the dressing room became “toxic”.

“Steve Patterson got left out pretty early on and he had the whole dressing room fighting.

“I tried to help Gary and the team but it became evident that, even though Steve caused a lot of issues, I was going to be picked on.

“Six or seven players made a complaint about Tim Bresnan, but I was the only person to feel the repercussions.”

Azeem Rafiq revealed that in 2017, his wife went through a difficult pregnancy which resulted in the tragic loss of their son.

In the immediate aftermath, he said that the treatment he received from the club was “inhumane”.

Rafiq said that he received no support from the club.

He added that Andrew Gale believed he was making his personal tragedy more than what it was.

He admitted that during his first spell, he did not see racism for what it was because it was such a norm.

The report described Rafiq as a heavy drinker. Rafiq admitted that he did things to fit in and was not proud of them, it has no relation to racism.

He then recalled that when he was 15, he was pinned down at his local cricket club and had red wine poured down his throat.

Rafiq revealed that the player played for Yorkshire and Hampshire.

While Azeem Rafiq highlighted his treatment at Yorkshire, he says racism happens throughout the country, specifically when players join academies, calling the scale of the problem “scary”.

He says: “Other people’s experiences now… and I have had lots talking about it up and down the country.

“The ECB has to take some responsibility too. It is their game, they are the regulators and their actions with the T-shirts, taking the knee – they were the one of the first teams to stop that.

“They need to stop palming off to other bodies, like the NACC [National Asian Cricket Council].”

He revealed that players from the likes of Middlesex and Nottinghamshire have contacted him over similar instances they have experienced.

Ex-Yorkshire Chairman Roger Hutton appeared before the committee and says Azeem Rafiq’s “incredibly powerful” story made him “incredibly sad”.

He expressed his disappointment that former chief executive Mark Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon did not appear before the committee.

Hutton claimed that there was resistance in the Yorkshire boardroom.

He said: “There were a number of signals throughout the process.

“I was asked by the CEO [Mark Arthur] to abandon the process and investigation.

“An employment tribunal had been settled and the CEO did not want to apologise. I said Azeem Rafiq would be part of the process of healing and reconciliation and was told he would not be welcome.

“There were isolated incidents like this throughout the investigation.

“When the report was produced on 17 August, there was a clear resistance to see Azeem as a victim and clear resistance to apology.

“There is not one defining moment and I saw resistance and it accumulated.

“I believed that the club’s culture was in the past and needs changing, my resigning was not going to change that, (being on the board) that would have been done from within.”

New Yorkshire Chairman Lord Patel said of Martyn Moxon and Mark Arthur:

“If I was there at the time, if the evidence was such and bringing the club into disrepute, as a chair you have the responsibility and I would have taken that responsibility.”

Hutton claimed that he had “no executive authority” as to why no disciplinary action was taken following the report.

He added that the club has a “culture of the past”.

As a result, Lord Patel stated that “we have to move quickly” in order to change the culture.

On whether YCCC is institutionally racist, Hutton indicated that it is.

He also stated that the ECB should have investigated the matter.

ECB’s chief executive Tom Harrison responded:

“We have got a litany of issues to deal with that will help inform our regulatory process going forwards.

“There is a complex role for the national governing body as promoter and regulator.

“We do have processes that keep the independence of the regulatory process.”

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”