I was living my family’s dream as a professional cricketer, but inside I was dying, said Azeem Rafiq.© AFP
Former England U-19 spinner Azeem Rafiq claimed that during his stint with county club Yorkshire he thought of killing himself due to alleged racism. “I know how close I was to committing suicide during my time at Yorkshire. I was living my family’s dream as a professional cricketer, but inside I was dying. I was dreading going to work. I was in pain every day,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Rafiq as saying. The player also alleged that he felt like an outsider in the side as there was nobody from a similar background.
“There were times I did things to try and fit in that, as a Muslim, I now look back on and regret. I’m not proud of it at all. But as soon as I stopped trying to fit in, I was an outsider. There were no coaches on the staff from a similar background who understood what it was like,” he added.
Former Yorkshire skipper Rafiq was very much shocked by the club’s approach towards his complaint. The player’s allegations were not addressed by the club authorities.
“Yorkshire doesn’t want to listen and they don’t want to change. And part of the reason for that is the people who were involved in the incidents I’m talking about are still at the club. They just want to sweep it under the carpet,” Rafiq said.
“Look at the facts and figures. Look at a squad photograph. Look at the coaches. How many non-white faces do you see? Despite the ethnic diversity of the cities in Yorkshire, despite the love for the game from Asian communities, how many people from those backgrounds are making it into the first team?” he added.
The 29-year-old now pursues a career away from the game and hopes to “prevent anyone else feeling the same pain.”
“It’s obvious to anyone who cares that there’s a problem. Do I think there is institutional racism? It’s at its peak in my opinion. It’s worse than it’s ever been. My only motivation now is to prevent anyone else feeling the same pain,” he said.
According to the ESPNcricinfo report, Yorkshire have so far declined to make a public response to Rafiq”s claims.
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