"I'm having to pick my family up and leave for safety reasons."
Following the racism allegations he made against Yorkshire Cricket Club, Azeem Rafiq and his family are planning to leave the UK.
The spin bowler displayed incredible bravery and fortitude by going public with his accusations against the club.
There was a lot of fan support for the accusations, but others also criticised him for taking on a long-standing institution.
He stated in his testimony before a parliamentary committee in 2021 that his experiences had made him feel suicidal.
Rafiq, aged 31, who was born in Pakistan and moved to the UK when he was 10 years old, will now leave for other lands in order to safeguard his family.
In a statement regarding his decision to leave the UK, Rafiq commented:
“Twenty-one years ago, my dad picked us up and moved us because his business partner had been kidnapped and burnt.
“Twenty-one years on, deja vu and I’m having to pick my family up and leave for safety reasons.
“That breaks me.”
Following the allegations, Yorkshire Cricket Club removed a large number of employees, and an investigation found “deep-seated” racism in cricket.
Rafiq spoke candidly about the harassment he has experienced as a result of his accusations, as well as how his family has been singled out.
“I was away from home a few months ago and my parent’s house got circled late at night [by someone] with what looked like a weapon in their hand and, to this day, nothing has happened on that.
“That really started to raise my fears.
“There’s been attacks – verbal attacks, social media – and it has got to the point where I’ve had to take the decision to take my family away from the country.
“For the last two years I have put the cause very much front and centre of my life and I will continue to do that, just in a different manner.
“I need to protect and take a little heat off my family.”
Following his accusations, an independent panel proved only seven of the 43 complaints.
The panel’s recommendations were not made public, and as a result, no one was penalised.
Azeem Rafiq fought for the hearing to be made public.
His request was granted, and the ECB’s Discipline Commission announced that the hearing concerning Rafiq’s accusations against Yorkshire CCC will begin on November 28, 2022, and be open to the public.
If any of the parties concerned win their appeal, the hearing can still take place in private.
Although Rafiq believes a public hearing would be bad to his reputation and ignite further tensions, he wants the world to hear his story:
“My view is I’ve gone through all these processes and been vindicated, yet I and my family continue to be put through some very awful situation.
“So, I’ll go in another room, and I will be vindicated again, I’ve got absolutely no doubt whatsoever. But will that change my life?
“I actually think it’ll make things worse.
“But we need to have these conversations for transparency and for closure.
“Let the world see it, what’s there to hide? I’ve got nothing to hide.”
A book discussing Azeem Rafiq’s life titled It’s Not Banter, It’s Racism is set to be published on May 4, 2023.
The book will examine the discrimination he has encountered during his life and his experiences within cricket.