By: Sattwik Biswal
IN an emotional apperance before the parliamentary select committee on Tuesday, former player Azeem Rafiq gave more details to the racism scandal at Yorkshire.
Explaining to the MPs, he broke down into tears as he explained in details of the racism that he experienced at the club.
A report had confirmed Rafiq was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying”, but Yorkshire had denied to take any disciplinary action against anyone.
Earlier, former teammate and England player Gary Ballance had admitted of using racist slur. During the appearance today (16), Rafiq went into greater detail and listed the amount of racist slurs and ‘inhuman’ treatment he had to face during his time at Yorkshire.
Racism was not limited to Yorkshire alone as Ballance allegedly referred to all ethnic minority players as ‘Kevin’ in the England dressing room, which prompted Alex Halex to use the same name for his black dog.
Rafiq also alleged inappropriate comments from former England coach and Sky Sports commentator David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd, as well as a bullying complaint against former England player, Tim Bresnan. He also criticised current England Test skipper Joe Root for pleading ignorance to what he described as ‘institutional racism’.
“Kevin was something Gary (Ballance) used to describe anyone of colour in a very derogatory manner. It was an open secret in the England dressing room,” Rafiq explained. “Anyone who came across Gary would know that was a phrase he would use to describe people of colour.
“Gary and Alex Hales got really close to each other when they played for England together. I wasn’t present in that dressing room, but what I understand is that Alex went on to name his dog Kevin because it was black. It’s disgusting how much of a joke it was.”
Rafiq said he had even heard questionable comments made by Lloyd, and added: “It’s clear the problem is there. Everyone’s known it for a very long time. I think it’s been an open secret. As I’ve seen over the last 15 months, if you speak out your life is going to be made hell – and there’s no doubt my life [has been made hell].
“I sat in front of national TV and talked about the dark places this whole episode has got me into and what’s happened since then? Denial, briefings, cover-ups, smearing.
“High-profile media people messaging other members of the media who supported me saying stuff like, “The club houses are the life blood of a club and Asian players don’t go in there”, “Getting subs out of Asian players is like getting blood out of stone”.
“And then personally this guy doesn’t even know me, has never spent any time with me, is talking about my personal drinking, going out and socialising.
“That was David Lloyd, he’s been an England coach, commentator, and I found it disturbing because Sky are supposedly doing this amazing work on bringing racism to the front and within a week of me speaking out that’s what I got sent to me. And I thought, ‘Gosh, there’s some closet racists and we need to do something about it’.”
Root, who played for Yorkshire througout his career, released a statement last week urging Yorkshire to ‘educate, unify and reset’, but denied having heard of any racist comment made.
Rafiq says Root himself was never guilty of racism, but he described the England skipper’s statement as ‘hurtful’ and ‘strange’ and claims he was present when a number of racist comments would have been made.