Cricket

Azeem Rafiq files legal claim against Yorkshire over alleged racism

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Former allrounder cites ‘direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race’

Azeem Rafiq has filed a legal complaint against Yorkshire County Cricket Club, citing “direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race”, as well as “victimisation and detriment as a result of his efforts to address racism at the club”.

Rafiq told ESPNcricinfo in August that he had been left “on the brink of suicide” by the club’s failure to respond adequately to his allegations of institutional racism, and says he has taken this action, under the Equality Act, in a bid to seek “closure”.

“Those who have, like me, been on the receiving end of racism and discrimination will understand how hard it is to open up about the pain and suffering it causes,” said Rafiq.

“I feel a sense of relief to finally speak about it and that my healing process can now begin. I hope this claim will give me the closure I need and that the recommendations from the Tribunal will help bring about change for our future generations in cricket.”

Rafiq’s claim against the club alleges that he was given a racist nickname by his team-mates, as were other Yorkshire players with an ethnic minority background, with the term “P***” and the phrase “go back where you came from” frequently heard within the dressing-room.

The claim further alleges that Yorkshire failed to respect ethnic beliefs of Pakistani players and players of Pakistani descent, “including the non-provision of Halal food facilities and attempts to enforce the drinking culture of the club on them”.

Yorkshire is also accused of failing to provide Rafiq with pastoral care after his son was still-born in 2018, shortly before he left the club for a second time, and Rafiq claims that he was denied the same professional opportunities as his white British team-mates, including an opportunity to play T20 franchise cricket in the off-season.

Rafiq’s original allegations, which were laid out in the course of three separate interviews in the course of the English season, led to Yorkshire commissioning an investigation, which is still ongoing.

“Racism has no place in our society or in our sport,” Yorkshire told ESPNcricinfo in a statement. “We have taken the allegations made extremely seriously, launching a thorough, independent investigation and now await the results and recommendations from this early next year.

“This is an important investigation for the club and a distressing time for all involved but with this process underway and the investigation team currently conducting interviews, it would be inappropriate for us to go into further detail on any ongoing legal matters at this stage.”

Rafiq’s lawyer, Asma Iqbal, added: “Azeem is a victim of institutional racism who has taken a brave step to whistle blow on an institution which now accepts it needs to embrace change; if only they had recognised this in 2018 when Azeem was crying out for help and support.

“Crucially, the YCCC can do the right thing and accept this claim, which will allow the action to go ahead. If YCCC is serious about tackling racism, it will do just that.”

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