Lord Kamlesh Patel stressed that speaking Azeem Rafiq must “bring about real change” in cricket after the Yorkshire whistleblower exposed his experience of racism in sport to MPs.
Afiq’s powerful testimony before the Government’s Select Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) saw him deliver a damning and damaging account of his life in the English game as he published a series of unprecedented claims, before the publication of a written statement made matters even worse.
During the day, former England players Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan, Alex Hales and Gary Ballance all faced new allegations of racial discrimination.
New Yorkshire President Lord Patel testified before the DCMS committee after Rafiq’s testimony and said: “The emotion of Azeem Rafiq’s convincing testimony before the select committee today was evident, and his experiences are heartbreaking. and overwhelming.
“Azeem’s courage to speak out is to be commended, and no one should underestimate how difficult it would have been to relive it all in public. His wish to bring a “voice to the voiceless” should be a source of inspiration to bring about real change in sport.
“I repeat our apologies to Azeem for what he went through, it should never have happened and this is something the club must recognize. There are no quick fixes to the clear problems that have been identified, and the problems are complex, including the accusation of institutional racism which must be tackled head-on. “
Rafiq’s attempts to raise allegations internally in Yorkshire fell on deaf ears more than three years ago, but an independent panel was finally commissioned in 2020. His report was heavily criticized by those who saw it and led to Yorkshire’s controversial conclusion that no staff member should be disciplined.
In his witness statement issued by a now settled labor court with the county, Rafiq said Bresnan’s treatment of him led to “suicidal thoughts” in 2017, with a subsequent apology from Bresnan described by Rafiq as “Empty words”.
Elsewhere, Rafiq reiterated an existing allegation against former England captain Michael Vaughan and also aired a long list of complaints against Yorkshire cricket director Martyn Moxon and head coach Andrew Gale.
Rafiq claimed that Ballance’s derogatory use of the term “Kevin” as an umbrella term for all people of color was “an open secret in the English locker room”, and further alleged that Hales named his dog Kevin because ‘he was black.
Ballance is accused of repeatedly calling Rafiq “P ***”, an allegation which is also made individually against Hoggard and Gale.
Bresnan on Twitter apologized wholeheartedly for “any role I played in contributing to Azeem Rafiq’s bullying experience,” but pointed out that Rafiq’s accusation that he “frequently made racist comments ”was“ absolutely not true ”.
Referring to England captain Joe Root’s recent claim that he could not recall any instance of racism in Yorkshire, Rafiq said: “Rooty is a good man. He never engaged in racist language.
“I found it hurtful because Rooty was Gary’s roommate and had been involved in a lot of socializing where I was called ‘P ***’. It shows how normal it was that even a good man like him don’t see it for what it was.
Former England coach and veteran commentator David Lloyd has apologized on Twitter after Rafiq said he had exchanged derogatory messages about him in private.
Lloyd, whose Sky employers said they were investigating the comments, wrote: “I deeply regret my actions and very sincerely apologize to Azeem and the Asian cricket community for doing this and for all offense caused. “
The England and Wales Cricket Council has appointed an Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC), chaired by Cindy Butts, to examine the issue of race in the game. Her call for evidence is now open, but Rafiq said: “Actions are needed and needed now. To be honest, we’ve had enough of these fairness commissions and inquiries. “
He added: “Do I think I lost my career because of racism? Yes. Hopefully in five years we’re going to see a big change, that I’ve done something far bigger than any leads or wickets I’ve had.
The PA news agency attempted to contact those involved for comment.
Michael Vaughan released a statement on Monday categorically denying accusations that he told four Asian teammates “there are too many of you, we have to do something about this”.