Former cricketer Azeem Rafiq who made allegations of racism and harassment against Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) has shared his harrowing experiences at the club in a parliamentary hearing in front of MPs.
Azeem Rafiq provided disturbing details of his time at Headingley, he talked about racially derogatory use of the term ‘Kevin’ by former team-mate Gary Ballance. Rafiq also told that England opener Alex Hales who has been out of the scheme of things of selectors had given a dog the name ‘Kevin’ because it was black.
“Anyone who came across Gary would know that was a phrase he would use to describe people of colour. Gary and Alex Hales got really close to each other when they played for England together. I wasn’t present in that dressing room, but what I understand (is) that Alex went on to name his dog ‘Kevin’ because it was black. It’s disgusting how much of a joke it was.”
I Got Pinned Down At My Local Cricket Club And Had Red Wine Poured Down My Throat – Azeem Rafiq
Azeem Rafiq was seen in tears on several occasions but he fought back strong and gave every detail on the things he has suffered. Rafiq told that racial discrimination, and taking a stand against it, had cost him his cricket career. Rafiq revealed that when he was a 15-year-old club cricketer red wine was poured down his throat by a former Yorkshire and Hampshire player.
“I got pinned down at my local cricket club and had red wine poured down my throat, literally down my throat,” the 30-year-old Rafiq said.
“The player played for Yorkshire and Hampshire. I (then) didn’t touch alcohol until about 2012 and around that time I felt I had to do that to fit in.”
“Pretty early on, me and other people from an Asian background,” Rafiq told a House of Commons select committee overseeing sport, “there were comments such as, ‘You lot sit there near the toilets,’ ‘Elephant washers.’ The word P*** was used constantly. And there just seemed to be an acceptance in the institution from the leaders and no one stamped it out.” he added.
Talking about England red-ball captain Joe Root, Azeem Rafiq said that he was never engaged in the racist language. He said:
“Rooty is a good man. He never engaged in racist language, I found it hurtful because Rooty was Gary’s housemate and had been involved in a lot of the socialising where I was called a ‘P***’. It shows how normal it was that even a good man like him doesn’t see it for what it was. It’s not going to affect Joe, but it’s something I remember every day.”
Azeem Rafiq also demanded instant action on this matter as he was “sick and tired” of all the inquires. He asserted:
“Action is needed and needed now. To be honest, we are sick and tired of these equity commissions and inquiries. Sick and tired.
“All we are asking for is equality, to be treated fairly regardless of the colour of our skin or the religion we follow. Just respect as a human race. It’s 2021, we shouldn’t even be having this conversation.
Azeem Rafiq further added that no one dares to come forward and speak on this matter because of the “fear of not being believed”. He said:
“No one has ever been a whistleblower before, no one has ever dared to come forward because of the fear of not being believed. Do I believe I lost my career to racism? Yes, I do.
“Maybe what was written for me was this. I’m a massive believer that everything happens for a reason. I hope in five years we are going to see a big change, that I did something far bigger than any runs or any wickets I got.”
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