Rafiq says he had to leave England after being abused for speaking out about racism

Former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq said he was “expelled” from England after speaking last year about his experience of the racism he faced at the county club and that he is still not receiving support from England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

Rafiq, a former England Under-19 captain and of Pakistani descent, had told a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee in November 2021 that he suffered persistent racial abuse and had contemplated suicide while in Yorkshire.

His allegations of institutional racism rocked English cricket, sparking sweeping changes at the club and encouraging other victims to come forward.

Speaking again to the DCMS panel on Tuesday, the 31-year-old said he didn’t feel supported even though he now gets 24-hour security from the ECB.

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“For the past few months I have been given 24/7 security, but I have been forced to leave. Providing security has been good all along, but sometimes there was no protection,” Rafiq told the commission.

“I feel that even the ECB has been involved in leaking and spreading stories about me. My medical information and data have been shared. I made that point to the new (ECB) chairman (Richard Thompson).

“I feel that if there has been an opportunity to discredit my experience, I feel that even the ECB has tried. I don’t think it’s about individuals. The structural problems within cricket are a lot bigger.

“If I were to look at 13 months after I opened my heart, the only thing that has really changed is that me and my family have been driven out of the country. And that’s a sad element of it.”

Rafiq said he was abused, among other things, by a man who relieved himself outside his parents’ home.

“The way I have been assaulted and abused, why speak out? I have a little hope for the new leadership of the ECB, but at the moment it is very small,” said Rafiq.

The ECB said the evidence heard by the panel showed why widespread change was needed in cricket and why achieving lasting cultural change would take many years of action.

“We are determined to achieve this and have listened carefully to today’s testimony, which will play an important role in understanding the further work that is needed,” the ECB said in a statement.

“Since Rafiq’s testimony to the select committee a year ago, significant action has been taken in cricket and progress has been made in tackling discrimination and making the sport more welcoming and inclusive.

“But we are well aware that there is still a lot of work to be done.”

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