Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq fought back tears as he told a committee of British lawmakers on Tuesday he felt “isolated and humiliated” by the racist treatment he received while playing for the club. An independent report found the Pakistan-born player was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying” while Rafiq himself said he had been driven to thoughts of suicide over the way he was treated. Although the English county apologised, they said they would take no disciplinary action against any staff — a decision that was met with disbelief in many quarters and prompted the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee to hold a hearing.
“I felt, isolated, humiliated at times,” Rafiq, who had two periods at the club, told the committee.
The 30-year-old Rafiq said racism had been commonplace at Yorkshire, one of England’s oldest and most successful clubs.
“Pretty early on, me and other people from an Asian background… there were comments such as ‘you’ll sit over there near the toilets’, ‘elephant-washers’.
“The word Paki was used constantly. And there just seemed to be an acceptance in the institution from the leaders and no one ever stamped it out.”
Rafiq added: “All I wanted to do is play cricket and play for England and live my dream and live my family’s dream. In my first spell, I don’t really think I quite realised what it was. I think I was in denial.”
He said he started taking medication due to his deteriorating mental health and left Yorkshire for the first time in 2014.
When he returned to the club he said he felt supported by then Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie but that the situation worsened when the former Australia fast bowler left the club.
“Jason left in 2016 and it just felt the temperature in the room had been turned up,” Rafiq said. \
“You had Andrew Gale coming in as coach and Gary Ballance as captain.
“For the first time I started to see for what it was — I felt isolated, humiliated at times. Constant use of the word ‘Paki’.”
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