Azeem Rafiq on how he has suffered due to backlash from his racism revelations: ‘I’m not sure how much more I can take’ | Cricket News


Azeem Rafiq on feeling threatened: “Always looking over your shoulder, feeling like you might be followed. Difficult to do things like a normal person, go to the gym – all of that has been very hard.”

Last Updated: 08/03/22 3:17pm


The chief executive of the Professional Cricketers Association, Rob Lynch has admitted the union made failings in its support to Azeem Rafiq in the wake of racism allegations made against Yorkshire

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The chief executive of the Professional Cricketers Association, Rob Lynch has admitted the union made failings in its support to Azeem Rafiq in the wake of racism allegations made against Yorkshire

The chief executive of the Professional Cricketers Association, Rob Lynch has admitted the union made failings in its support to Azeem Rafiq in the wake of racism allegations made against Yorkshire

Azeem Rafiq says there are up to 50 South Asian cricketers in the UK who have experienced similar racist abuse to him, but they have been scared into silence by the backlash he has faced.

The former England under-19s and Yorkshire captain revealed in 2020 that he was suicidal after the repeated racism he was subjected to while involved in cricket.

Rafiq’s allegations led to radical changes in the county’s leadership, the stripping of international hosting rights for Headingley which have still not been fully restored, and prompted the England and Wales Cricket Board to enact a
12-point plan to tackle racism in the game.

He says now, at the age of 31, he feels he is unemployable in the sport after speaking out to highlight what he suffered.

Warwickshire chief executive Stuart Cain reveals the county's new multifaith charter and says Azeem Rafiq's evidence inspired the county to act and not talk about their diversity plans

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Warwickshire chief executive Stuart Cain reveals the county’s new multifaith charter and says Azeem Rafiq’s evidence inspired the county to act and not talk about their diversity plans

Warwickshire chief executive Stuart Cain reveals the county’s new multifaith charter and says Azeem Rafiq’s evidence inspired the county to act and not talk about their diversity plans

Rafiq spoke to Sky Sports News at the inaugural “Include Summit” in Birmingham, supported by Sky Sports, which aims to get one million underprivileged and under-represented youngsters involved in sport.

Asked if up to 50 South Asian players felt unable to speak about being racially abused, Rafiq said: “Yeah, and that was the system.

“Tom Harrison called it the earthquake. If everyone had been allowed to speak out it would have been even harder and more uncomfortable for the game, but clearly there was more interest in trying to quieten people down.

“As an individual it can be very hard to speak out. When the backlash came? No one is perfect. I’ve made mistakes in my life which I regret – just to be clear the antisemitic comments I made as a kid, I deserve everything I got in respect of that. I’m disgusted with myself about that.

“But it’s amazing how people can make me out to be a horrible person.

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq says there is still a long way to go to combat racism in the sport in the wake of comments made Middlesex chair Mike O'Farrell to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee

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Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq says there is still a long way to go to combat racism in the sport in the wake of comments made Middlesex chair Mike O’Farrell to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq says there is still a long way to go to combat racism in the sport in the wake of comments made Middlesex chair Mike O’Farrell to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee

“I’ve had people contact me saying they want to speak out and I’ve told them the truth of what will happen if they do, but I’ve also told them that they won’t be on their own because I will stand alongside them.

“Living every day with this is becoming unbearable, at the age of 31 I’m not sure how much more I can take, it goes straight through to my core.

“It’s just something I’m trying to get more and more used to.”

Rafiq said about the backlash he has received since revealing the racism he suffered: “I never thought it would be easy. I thought it would be a few years down the line when I felt the full force of negativity from what I’d said.

“At the age of 31 it feels like I can never be employed again. I have two kids and it worries me about the impact this might have on them.”

He said that he has felt threatened: “Yeah, feels like there’s a threat there. But when the sanctions kick in for institutions, that’s when I fear the threats could be very real. That’s why we went away in January and February.

“Always looking over your shoulder, feeling like you might be followed. Difficult to do things like a normal person, go to the gym – all of that has been very hard.”

Rafiq insisted that the aftermath to his revelations has been as difficult to deal with as the racism itself: “Without doubt. Dealing with the racist abuse, speaking to Yorkshire, raising it – was difficult, but it’s not been half as bad as what’s followed.

“And it’s so tough to make sure change comes from it, because there’s no point in going through all of this otherwise.”

After a DCMS report found there was 'deep-seated' racism within the sport, Azeem Rafiq says he is encouraged that the committee has taken the issue seriously

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After a DCMS report found there was ‘deep-seated’ racism within the sport, Azeem Rafiq says he is encouraged that the committee has taken the issue seriously

After a DCMS report found there was ‘deep-seated’ racism within the sport, Azeem Rafiq says he is encouraged that the committee has taken the issue seriously

Rafiq believes cricket hasn’t changed enough as a result of the racism he experienced.

“No. I don’t think the game gets it yet,” he said. “Yorkshire does. There’s been systemic racism for years. To hear the county chairs at the DCMS wanting to take power back, or saying it’s been made out to be a bigger problem than it is – that’s scary really.

“I just hope the game is going to start letting down the defensive nature and the risk management of the issues, and genuinely, organically, wanting people to come into their grounds so that they feel they have.

“I’d love to get back to the game – I’d love to get involved in media or coaching, but I won’t do that until I feel the game is starting to move the dial. I have full faith in Allah. I will put food on the table somehow, but I won’t let go of this cause.”





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