Tearful Azeem Rafiq tells MPs of ‘pain’ at ‘constant use of word P***’ - as it happened

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·20-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Azeem Rafiq gave evidence to MPs following Yorkshire cricket racism allegations (AFP)
Azeem Rafiq gave evidence to MPs following Yorkshire cricket racism allegations (AFP)

Azeem Rafiq opened his account of experiencing constant racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club by telling a DCMS committee that he was regularly referred to as a “P***” and detailing several specific instances where he had suffered indignity and “humiliation” at the hands of those at the club.

Yorkshire has been widely criticised over the racism scandal, which saw chairman Roger Hutton resign earlier in November and several directors later follow suit.

Rafiq told the DCMS he was treated in an “inhuman” manner following the stillbirth of his son. He also recounted an instance of wine forced down his throat by a Yorkshire player when he was only 15-years-old even though he was Muslim.

Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and its chair Barry O’Brien are currently appearing before the committee as they answer questions surrounding their part in the scandal.

Read More

Yorkshire racism crisis: All you need to know ahead of Tuesday’s DCMS hearing

Azeem Rafiq does not want son ‘anywhere near cricket’ after racism at Yorkshire

Azeem Rafiq says Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson ‘showing the world how to behave’

Azeem Rafiq details racist abuse suffered with Yorkshire in DCMS committee meeting

Key Points

  • Rafiq gave evidence to MPs in Yorkshire racism allegations

  • Ex chairman Roger Hutton to give evidence later today

  • Rafiq claims wine poured down his throat aged 15 by a Yorkshire player

Welcome

09:40 , Thomas Kingsley

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s hearing following allegations of racism in Yorkshire County Cricket Club

A timeline of Yorkshire’s racism crisis

09:43 , Thomas Kingsley

The PA news agency provides a timeline of developments in the Yorkshire racism crisis so far going as far back as September last year.

Full story below:

Adil Rashid supports Azeem Rafiq claim – a timeline of Yorkshire’s racism crisis

‘You lot sit over there near the toilets’ Rafiq begins to give evidence

09:45 , Thomas Kingsley

Beginning his evidence, Rafiq explains what went wrong at Yorkshire cricket club.

He said: “From early on there was a lot of ‘You lot sit over there near the toilets’, the word Paki was used constantly, no one ever stamped it out. All I wanted to do was play cricket.

“Towards the end of my first spell but constantly throughout I knew there was something wrong. I started taking medication for my mental health. It was really tough.”

‘He’s not a Sheikh, he hasn’t got oil’ Rafiq recounts constant racist jibes

09:49 , Thomas Kingsley

Rafiq continues on his second spell with the club which ended in 2018: “Andrew Gale came in as coach, Gary Ballance as captain, and the temperature changed. I felt isolated. Ballance came over and said: “Why are you talking to him, he’s not a Sheikh, he hasn’t got oil.”

“Everyone saw it. No one did anything about it.

He says his treatment by the club was “inhuman” during a difficult pregnancy he went through before pausing and was visibly upset.

Rafiq recounts harassment over calls to prayer as a Muslim

09:56 , Thomas Kingsley

“My first instance of drinking I was pinned down at my local cricket club I was 15,” Rafiq who is a Muslim told the committee when questioned about harassment suffered for answering the call to prayer.

“It was literally down my throat. The player played for Yorkshire, it was quite an experience. I didn’t touch alcohol until around 2012 and around that time I felt like I had to do that to fit in and I regret that massively,” he added.

Rafiq added that he didn’t experience harassment over calls to prayer but if a Muslim player was fasting and made mistakes they would be blamed by coaches at Yorkshire “as opposed to understanding.”

10:00 , Thomas Kingsley

Rafiq says Yorkshire players, media, the club, commentators joined in calling former player Cheteshwar Pujara “Steve” while at the club.

“Kevin” was something Gary Ballance used to describe anyone of colour, Rafiq said. This was widely known, he adds. He says Ballance went on to name his dog “Kevin”, because the dog was black.

Azeem Rafiq appears before MPs on Tuesday about his time at Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)
Azeem Rafiq appears before MPs on Tuesday about his time at Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

Rafiq refused a confidentiality form and sum of money before leaving the club

10:05 , Thomas Kingsley

“At the time when I left I had four to five months left on my contact, I was encouraged to sign a confidentiality form and take a sum of money which I refused which at that time would have been a lot of money for me... I knew my wife was struggling,” Rafiq told the committee.

He added: “There was no way mentally I could have considered putting myself through this trauma. I left the country and went to Pakistan...I never wanted to come back,” Rafiq said through tears.

Hearing adjourned as Rafiq holds back tears

10:09 , Thomas Kingsley

“The pain I went through the last few months I know no one can ever put me through again,” Rafiq said through tears when asked how he found the strength to come forward with his allegations.

The hearing was adjourned.

‘The ECB has to take responsibility’ Rafiq says

10:17 , Thomas Kingsley

When asked by Damien Green MP the ECB if racism in cricket is institutional, Rafiq replied “Yes I do.”

“I know off the record I have had enough people speak about experiences up and down the country, it’s not just Yorkshire. The ECB has to take responsibility.”

Counties ‘never wanted to deal’ with problem of representation at cricket clubs, Rafiq says

10:21 , Thomas Kingsley

Azeem Rafiq said counties including the ECB have never wanted to deal with issues of representation in cricket when asked by Damien Green about racism.

“They have enough evidence there to deal with that problem. Is it that they don’t want representation from the South Asian community?” Rafiq said.

‘I have no doubt this is an issue up and down the country’ Rafiq says

10:33 , Thomas Kingsley

Azeem Rafiq said his family didn’t know what he was going through at Yorkshire cricket club, when questioned by Kevin Brennan MP.

He said he spoke to his sister who opened up her experiences at Leicester. “I have no doubt this is an issue up and down the country,” Rafiq said.

Clive Efford MP questions Rafid about his experience at Derby cricket club

10:37 , Thomas Kingsley

Clive Efford MP questioned Rafiq about his loan experience at Derby cricket club.

“I had the most enjoyable month on loan at Derby. From the minute I got there the captain and coach made me feel valued,” Rafiq said.

Rafiq added that he was only there for a month so can’t speak to the wider issues at the club. “Representation there is in short,” he added.

Azeem Rafiq details racist abuse suffered with Yorkshire in DCMS committee meeting

10:39 , Thomas Kingsley

Azeem Rafiq opened his account of experiencing constant racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club by telling a DCMS committee that he was regularly refered to as a “P***” and detailing several specific instances where he had suffered indignity and “humiliation” at the hands of those at the club.

Yorkshire has been widely criticised over the racism scandal, which saw chairman Roger Hutton resign earlier in November and several directors later follow suit.

Rafiq told the DCMS meeting that derogatory terms were commonplace and a culture of racist abuse was almost non-stop throughout his time with Yorkshire.

Karl Matchett has the full story below:

Azeem Rafiq details racist abuse suffered with Yorkshire in DCMS committee meeting

Rafiq claims he ‘begged’ the ECB and PCA to step in

10:44 , Thomas Kingsley

When asked if he was approached by the ECB Rafiq said he spoke to Tom Harrison following the release of the allegations. “I felt like he was listening but they took the stance that they were going to trust Yorkshire to do the right thing,” he said.

Rafiq said he “kept begging the ECB and the PCA” to step in but was reassured that Yorkshire cricket would handle it.

Rafiq says he had dark moments through the winter over the situation and at one point the PCA reported him missing. He added that this was only done to “tick a box just in case I killed myself” and not because they were concerned about him.

Matthew Hoggard apologised to Rafiq following his Sky interview

10:50 , Thomas Kingsley

Julliet Elliot MP has asked Rafiq if anyone has reached out to apologise to him.

“After my Sky interview, I took a phonecall from Matthew Hoggard. He said look, I’m really sorry if some of the comments made you feel the way you described it,” Rafiq said adding that he really appreciated it.

Racism worse in cricket than in everyday life, Rafiq says

10:55 , Thomas Kingsley

When asked about racism in his life outside of cricket, Rafiq said: “My everyday life for as long I’ve known it has just been cricket.”

He added that racism in cricket and professional sport is much worse than in everyday life. “Cricket is part of society. If we make changes in cricket we make changes in society. It’s such a cop out to say it’s [racism] a societal problem, every one of us is responsible for the society we live in.”

‘You have no case’ PCA lawyers said claims Rafiq after three minute conversation

10:58 , Thomas Kingsley

Rafiq said a PCA lawyer told him he didn’t have a case after a three minute conversation. He said it later came out that if they backed him it would have taken their whole budget.

“I would have rather they said we can’t afford it as opposed to saying you’ve got no case. It made me feel like no one believed me,” Rafiq said.

Steve Brine MP questions Rafiq

11:00 , Thomas Kingsley

“I’ve had messages from people at Leicester, at Middlesex, at Nottinghamshire, so from quite a few,” says Rafiq in response to Steve Brine MP. “Some people are still pretty scared to talk about it. The one reoccurrence was the word ‘P***’ was used a lot,”

Azeem Rafiq giving evidence to MPs (House of Commons Handout/PA). (PA Media)
Azeem Rafiq giving evidence to MPs (House of Commons Handout/PA). (PA Media)

Criminal barrister Anna Soubry calls revelation from hearing ‘disgraceful’

11:01 , Thomas Kingsley

Yorkshire thought they could ‘hide’ racism issues

11:04 , Thomas Kingsley

“When I saw that I was staggered,” Rafiq said in response to confirmations that no one at Yorkshire cricket club would face disciplinary action.

“While the investigation was live and tjhey were aware of the allegations against Gary, Gary was made captain again and given a three-year contract by these leaders.

Rafiq added that Yorkshire cricket club “genuinely thought they could hide” racism issues.

Giles Watling MP on Rafiq on returning to Yorkshire cricket club

11:09 , Thomas Kingsley

Giles Watling MP asks if Rafiq would help Yorkshire cricket club in the future if it asked.

“I’ve been brave enough to call an institution out. In the short term I’d prefer to sit on the outside and keep holding them to account so they know someone’s watching,” Rafiq said in response.

John Nicholson MP questions Rafiq on the wine incident

11:12 , Thomas Kingsley

John Nicholson MP asked Rafiq about the incident where he was forced to drink as a 15-year-old. Rafiq said no adults intervened to help him. He added that he was angry at himself for not stepping in.

“I wasn’t brave enough to say something,” Rafiq added.

‘I lost my career to racism’ Rafiq says

11:17 , Thomas Kingsley

When asked by John Nicholson MP if he thought that he lost his career due to racism, Rafiq replied “I do.”

“It’s horrible it hurts, hopefully I can look back at this and say I did something that was far bigger than any wickets I got or any runs.”

The hearing resumes with ex-chairman Roger Hutton

11:24 , Thomas Kingsley

Roger Hutton, the former Yorkshire chairman has now joined the meeting and will be questioned by the committee.

Roger Hutton claims there was a ‘resistance’ to see Rafiq as a victim

11:27 , Thomas Kingsley

Roger Hutton said the biggest issues of the allegations came to him after the report was published. He said there was a clear resistance within the board to see Rafiq as the victim and a clear resistance to apologise to him, Hutton responded to Julian Knight MP.

He added that the CEO wanted to abandon the investigation.

‘The club’s culture needs changing’ ex-chairman said

11:29 , Thomas Kingsley

“The club’s culture needs changing,” Hutton said in response to Knight’s question about whether he thought he should have resigned earlier.

Hutton added that he wanted to bring changes from within.

Hutton wanted to remove the head of HR at Yorkshire

11:34 , Thomas Kingsley

Hutton said there were a number of people in the club who affected the organisation negatively. He added that he wanted to remove the head HR at the club in addition to Mark Arthur and Martyn Moxon as a consequence of their failure to understand the gravity of the situation.

Roger Hutton stepped down as chairman of Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)
Roger Hutton stepped down as chairman of Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

Azeem Rafiq: ‘I don’t want my son to go anywhere near cricket’

11:39 , Thomas Kingsley

Azeem Rafiq says he would not want his son “anywhere near cricket” after the former Yorkshire bowler’s experiences of racism in the game.

Rafiq was speaking to a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday which is investigating a culture of racism in the sport, in the wake of a series of allegations he made about his time at Yorkshire, several of which were upheld by an independent inquiry.

Our reporter Lawrence Ostlere has the full story below:

Azeem Rafiq: ‘I don’t want my son to go anywhere near cricket’

Hutton unsure if Gary Ballance received recommended education training following investigation

11:42 , Thomas Kingsley

When asked if Gary Ballance should have been removed from Yorkshire cricket club, Hutton said the club took advice from lawyers who said “while there was a clear educational need for Gary Ballance, there was no need for disciplinary action.”

Hutton added that he doesn’t know if educational training was put in place while he was the chairman.

CEO resigning won’t change club’s culture, Hutton says

11:45 , Thomas Kingsley

When asked by Damien Green MP if anyone at the club could solve the current issues, Hutton said he only started his role during the pandemic and it was hard for him to evaluate.

He added again that the club culture was stuck in the past and the CEO resigning won’t change that.

Hutton unaware of ‘specific’ racism at the club before joining

11:55 , Thomas Kingsley

When asked by Alex Davies-Jones MP about whether he was aware of racism at Yorkshire cricket club before joining, Hutton said he wasn’t aware of specific issues but only wider, historical issues at the club.

Independent hotline set up to address bullying and racism allegations at club

11:59 , Thomas Kingsley

New Yorkshire cricket club chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel said an independent hotline for staff and players to report allegations of racism or bullying at the club to give them “confidence” that allegations would be properly processed and investigated.

Hutton said the inquiry into the club was ‘somewhat flawed’

12:03 , Thomas Kingsley

Hutton said he was alarmed that so many staff refused to give evidence to the inquiry.

“One of the difficulties with the club commissioning the report is that you can’t compel anyone coming forward because it’s a disciplinary process,” Hutton said.

He added that he was glad that the club did an inquiry but said the process was “somewhat flawed.”

Hutton on the club’s response to Black Lives Matter protests in 2020

12:10 , Thomas Kingsley

When asked what the response from the club was to Black Lives Matter protests following Floyd’s killing in USA, Hutton said there was no immediate response to it from the club but the players debated amongst themselves what stance to take.

He added that the players wore anti-discrimination logos following discussions but insisted that Yorkshire cricket club wasn’t an outlier to responses from the sporting world.

Azeem Rafiq says Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson ‘showing the world how to behave’

12:12 , Thomas Kingsley

Azeem Rafiq believes individuals within the sport of football have shown where cricket - and wider society - needs to follow their example.

Speaking at a DCMS hearing on Tuesday morning, Rafiq recounted several horrific instances of racist abuse he had suffered while playing with Yorkshire, revealing “the word P*** was used constantly” and highlighting other comments made by individuals in the game which pointed to a systemic problem within the sport.

Our reporter Karl Matchett has the full report below:

Rashford and Henderson ‘showing the world how to behave’ ’says Azeem Rafiq

Hutton says Yorkshire cricket club ‘falls into definition’ of institutional racism

12:17 , Thomas Kingsley

When asked if the club is institutionally racist Hutton says the report and panel of Yorkshire cricket found there was insufficient evidence that the club was institutionally racist.

But when pressed, he said that the club does “fall into the definition” of being institutionally racist.

Racism a ‘game wide issue’ says Hutton

12:21 , Thomas Kingsley

Hutton said he’s spoken to other cricket club chairs who have also agreed that racism in cricket is a “game wide issue.”

After being questioned by Steve Brine, Hutton refused to name other chairs.

Roger Hutton’s evidence has concluded

12:24 , Thomas Kingsley

Roger Hutton’s evidence has now concluded.

ECB head Tom Harrison will give evidence shortly along with Kate Miller, Chief Diversity and Communications Officer at the ECB, Meena Botros, Director of Legal and Integrity, at ECB and Alan Dickinson, Non-Executive Director at ECB.

ECB said it’s normal practice for counties to undertake their own investigations

12:30 , Thomas Kingsley

Why didn’t you deal with issue of racism at Yorkshire cricket club, Knight asks Tom Harrison.

Harrison said the board didn’t step in because of the complex role the ECB plays as a national governing body. He said it’s normal practice for counties to take on investigations that they want.

Julian Knight MP has requested the representatives from the ECB to provide correspondence with Yorkshire CC around the investigation.

ECB reps struggle to answer on structure of regulatory function

12:39 , Thomas Kingsley

Julie Elliott MP asks whether the ECB’s current process which is regulated by an independent committee that the ECB appoints is appropriate.

Both Harrison and Botros struggle to answer before conceding that the process “works” in absence of a better one.

ECB is fit for purpose Harrison says

12:43 , Thomas Kingsley

Tom Harrison said the ECB is “fit for purpose” after questioning by Julia Elliot MP. He added that the ECB is learning lessons.

“I think we’ve got a long way to go to fulfill our ambition to make cricket a game for everyone,” Harrison said. He added: “Since I’ve done this job I’ve tried to ensure this game provides opportunities to people from all different backgrounds to take part in this game.”

Cricket representation evidence isn’t ‘all bad’ Harrison says

12:51 , Thomas Kingsley

Tom Harrison said he doesn’t believe the evidence is “all bad” regarding diversity and representation.

“We’ve got signs in different parts of the country where there are good elements of best practice here,” he said.

Harrison said there is work to do to address a lack of representation.

Tom Harrison said the ECB needs to look into dressing room culture

13:00 , Thomas Kingsley

Harrison said he first heard of the use of the name Kevin as a racial slur in the report about Yorkshire cricket club.

Handling of the report indicates ‘institutional racism’ in Yorkshire cricket club Harrison says

13:04 , Thomas Kingsley

Harrison said he was not aware of the changes to the terms of reference of the Yorkshire CC report which allowed the club to make recommendations rather than investigators.

Harrison added that the handling of the report indicates there are “certain issues around institutional racism.”

'We're really sorry'

13:10 , Matt Mathers

When asked what he would say to members of the public whose view of cricket might now be on the "floor", Harrison says " please understand we're really sorry".

He says ECB has "let down" people who may have been attempting to engage with the sport.

"We are going to fix this and we are going to fix it quickly," he adds.

ECB could use major events as leverage against teams to follow anti-discrimination code

13:20 , Matt Mathers

In the final question of the session, Harrison is asked if the ECB could use the holding of major cricket events at clubs as leverage to incentivise county teams to adhere to anti-discrimination codes.

"Categorically yes," he replies. He adds that sanctions and other disciplinary measures are on the table.

Greaves Trust relationship to be looked at in Yorkshire governance review

13:29 , Matt Mathers

Before closing the session, committee chair Julian Knight asks Harrison about the Greaves Trust and its relationship with Yorkshire.

He says "according to Mr Hutton, they were a roadblock to reform of the board and changes at Yorkshire".

He asks Harrison what the ECB plans to do about the relationship, which he describes as "desperately unhealthy" for the game.

Harrison responds by saying one of the sanctions handed down to Yorkshire was that it must undergo a "governance review".

"I think all of that will get caught up in that governance review," he says.

13:50 , Matt Mathers

The committee has now finished hearing evidence from senior figures in cricket on racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the sport more broadly.

Earlier, a tearful Azeem Rafiq, who used to play for Yorkshire, told the committee that he was regularly referred to as a “P***” and detailed several specific instances where he had suffered indignity and “humiliation” at the hands of those at the club.'

My colleague Karl Matchett has the full report below:

Azeem Rafiq details racist abuse suffered with Yorkshire in DCMS committee meeting

Somerset CCC issues statement saying ‘there is no place for racism' in cricket

14:16 , Matt Mathers

Somerset County Cricket has said there is “no place for racism” at its club after today’s events in parliament.

The club added in a statement: “We take a zero tolerance approach to any form of behaviour which is anything other than inclusive for all, regardless of gender, race, sexuality or any other characteristic.

“All of the staff across the County Club and the Cricket Foundation have been reminded of how to raise an issue or complaint through official channels and will be fully supported should they wish to do so. Any case reported will be thoroughly investigated as it is important that we learn lessons from the past and we welcome any information on incidents that may have occurred to help us do so.

“We are listening.

“All of us as individuals have a responsibility to continue to educate ourselves to be better on issues of equality, diversity and inclusion and the Club has already started a programme designed to increase awareness amongst our Leadership Group and with our partners in the Foundation, the Club will deliver a comprehensive training programme for new and existing staff in 2022 and beyond.”

Watch: Tearful Azeem Rafiq tells MPs of ‘inhuman’ treatment by Yorkshire cricket club

14:31 , Matt Mathers

Watch: Azeem Rafiq tells cricket racism hearing - ‘Racism is not banter’

14:50 , Matt Mathers

15:08 , Matt Mathers

We’re wrapping up our coverage of the DCMS committee looking into racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Thanks for reading and have a good afternoon.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting