Azeem Rafiq racism investigation: Yorkshire cricketer names nine high-profile players & officials

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In a shocking hearing with the Digital Culture Media and Sports Committee, Azeem Rafiq had to hold back tears at points while recalling some of the racist abuse he had suffered in recent years at Yorkshire Cricket Club.

The former all-rounder provided evidence to MP's after a report concluded that he was the victim of 'racial harassment and bullying'.

Yorkshire, however, said they would not discipline anyone.

At one point in the hearing, Rafiq was visibly very emotional, holding back the tears as he was reflecting on the 'inhuman' treatment he received from the YCC after the death of his unborn child. 

Rafiq did in fact name nine well-known players and officials who had been involved in some way in the racist incidents, and you can see what has been said below, thanks to an article from The Sun 

Michael Vaughan (former England captain)

Michael Vaughan denies that he said to four players of Asian heritage before a game against Notts in 2009: "There are too many of you lot, we need to do something about it."

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Rafiq said in response: "He may not remember it because it doesn't mean anything to him, but three of the four Asian players he mentioned do remember it."

Rafiq then mentioned that Vaughan used his standing in the game, as well as his newspaper column, to "discredit" him. 

"He seems to have taken the same stance as the club - deny, deny, deny."

Gary Ballance (Yorkshire batsman)

In their time together at Yorkshire, Ballance and Rafiq were once friends. Ballance does admit calling Rafiq 'p****', but said it was meant in a good-natured, friendly way.

However, Rafiq said: "Gary would regularly make belittling or derogatory comments about my Pakistani heritage like 'don't talk to him, he's a P***.'

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"Or 'Why are you talking to him, he's a P***?' It became unbearable.

"At the PCA Awards in 2014, Gary made another racist, belittling comment to a woman about me in front of me.

"I was so fed up that I wanted to hit him and we had to be pulled apart by our agent Will Quinn."

Rafiq also exposed that Yorkshire had allowed Ballance plenty of leeway when it came to drug tests. They had allowed him to miss drug tests and when he actually did fail a test, they told the public he was out with mental health issues.

His statement read: "Over the years, YCCC protected Gary Ballance with respect to his drug and alcohol issues, allowing him to miss drug hair sample tests to avoid sanctions. 

"When he failed a recreational drug test and was forced to miss some games, the club informed the public he was missing games because he was struggling with anxiety and mental health issues."

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When approached by the BBC, a representative for Ballance denied the allegations. 

Andrew Gale (former Yorkshire captain and now coach)

Andrew Gale is the current coach of YCCC, and former teammate of Rafiq. He is currently suspended for a tweet sent out years ago containing an anti-semitic slur.

Rafiq said about him: "I was petrified of Andrew Gale and he treated me like I am something attached to the bottom of his foot, which I believe was because of my race. 

"Throughout my time at YCCC, Andrew called me the 'Raffa the Kaffir', 'P****' and so on.

"There were numerous incidents where I felt that Andrew was aggressive and rude towards me in ways that he wasn't with white players."

Perhaps most shockingly, Rafiq also said that Gale was dismissive of his soon-to-arrive baby's health concerns, the baby died soon after. 

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Gale is yet to respond.

David 'Bumble' Lloyd (ex-England coach and Sky TV pundit)

Rafiq has claimed that Lloyd had said 'getting subs out of Asian players (at cricket clubs) was like trying to extract blood from a stone.'

Rafiq was disheartened to hear Bumble's criticisms of him, particularly about his personal drinking and socialising, saying: "This guy doesn't even know me, has never spent any time with me.

"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."

Lloyd did address the claims on social media, and said: "In October 2020, I had a message exchange with a third party involved in cricket, about a number of topics. 

"In these messages, I referred to allegations about Azeem Rafiq which I had heard from within the game.

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"I also made some comments about the Asian cricket community. 

"I deeply regret my actions, and I apologise most sincerely to Azeem and to the Asian cricket community for doing this, and for any offence caused.

"I am strongly committed to making cricket a more inclusive sport.

"It is very obvious now that more work needs to be done and I will do everything I can to remove discrimination from the sport I love, and the sport that has been in my life for over 50 years."

Sky also commented on the matter: "Sky is committed to actively championing inclusion in cricket - and in all sports - and opposing all forms of discrimination. 

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"We will be investigating the comments attributed to David Lloyd in today's select committee hearing."

Alex Hales (Notts and former England batsman)

Rafiq said that 'Kevin' was a name that had been attributed to people of colour.

It was something that Ballance started at Yorkshire, but had now spread to the England dressing room as well. 

Hales, who was a good friend of Ballance through the England set-up, even named his dog - a black dobermann - 'Kevin' and Rafiq believes that is linked with the derogatory use of the name aimed towards people of colour. 

Hales is yet to respond.

Tim Bresnan (former England all-rounder)

Rafiq said: "Tim was very powerful at YCCC and it is worth noting that Tim and Andrew Gale are related - Tim is Andrew's brother-in-law.

"As with Andrew, Tim frequently made racist comments and was unduly harsh towards me compared to white British players.

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"I made a formal complaint against him in 2017."

On Tuesday afternoon, Bresnan issued a statement on Twitter: "I have been made aware of the bullying claims made against me and have listened to Azeem Rafiq's account of his time at Yorkshire CCC today with great distress, as I'm sure everyone will have done.

"For any part I have played in contributing to Azeem Rafiq's experience of feeling bullied at Yorkshire, I apologise unreservedly. 

"Following the publication of Azeem's witness statement from the employment tribunal, which I saw for the first time this afternoon, I must though categorically deny his accusation that I 'frequently made racist comments'. That is absolutely not true."

Matthew Hoggard (former England bowler)

Rafiq told the hearing: "It was Hoggy who started calling me 'Rafa the Kaffir'

"The comments from Hoggy towards myself and the other Asian players - Adil [Rashid], Ajmal [Shahzad] and Rana - were constant, on a daily basis.

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"He would also call us things like 'elephant washers' and 'P***.'

"After my Sky interview, I took a phone call from Matthew Hoggard. And he basically said, 'I didn't realise... I'm really sorry if some of the comments made you feel the way you describe. I just want to apologise. 

"When someone does that, I was like, 'Mate, thank you, I really appreciate it."

Martyn Moxon (Yorkshire director of cricket, now on sick leave)

Rafiq revealed that Moxon was the man in charge for much of his time at Yorkshire, and that he ignored the racist comments made towards him. 

On his first day back at work after his son died, Rafiq claimed: "Martyn Moxon literally got me in a room and ripped the shreds off me. 

"I've never seen him speak to anyone like that through my time at the club. I couldn't believe it."

Moxon is yet to respond.

Joe Root (England Test captain)

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Last week, Joe Root insisted that he had never seen, heard or experienced any racist behaviour at Yorkshire. 

Rafiq said he was 'hurt' by Root's claims, and that his comments were 'strange'.

He also said that Root 'is a good man, he never engaged in any racist language. But Rooty was Ballance's flatmate and was involved in those social nights out where I was called a 'P***.' 

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