“I know how close I was to committing suicide"
Former Yorkshire cricket player Azeem Rafiq has claimed that he was subjected to racist abuse at the club which left him “close to committing suicide”.
Subsequently, Yorkshire County Cricket Club have confirmed that they are in contact with their former player.
The 29-year-old ex-England youth captain walked away from cricket after his time at Yorkshire. However, now he has spoken against the club.
Rafiq was a spin bowler who also captained Yorkshire in a Twenty20 fixture in 2012.
He revealed that he felt he was made to feel like an “outsider” due to his religion and it left him on the brink of taking his own life.
Rafiq said: “I know how close I was to committing suicide during my time at Yorkshire.
“I was living my family’s dream as a professional cricketer, but inside I was dying. 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.
“My only motivation now is to prevent anyone else feeling the same pain.”
Yorkshire have responded to Rafiq’s allegations of racist abuse and have issued a statement which read:
“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.”
Rafiq is not currently working within the sport. He admitted that his claims will damage his chances of doing so in the future but insisted that it was the right thing to do.
He said: “Yorkshire don’t want to listen and they don’t want to change.
“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.”