'I was close to committing suicide' - Pakistan born English cricketer points out at racism in Yorkshire Club

‘I was close to committing suicide’ – Pakistan born English cricketer points out at racism in Yorkshire Club

Hurling some serious allegations against his last club Yorkshire, he said that he believes that the club is institutionally racist and they are not prepared to acknowledge the fact or willingness to change.

Former England U19 captain Azeem Rafiq recently opened up about his experience of facing racism at Yorkshire Club which left him on the brink on suicide. Sharing his experience, Azeem revealed that he was always considered as an outsider in Yorkshire and he lost his faith in humanity after his reports of racist behavior were ignored by the club.

The Pakistan based cricketer laid stress on how he was looked down upon due to his religion and skin colour. Though Rafiq was living the dream of his family by playing as a professional cricketer, he was dying from inside due to the indifference he was facing at his workplace. Also, there were not many people present in the authorities belonging to similar backgrounds who could understand his pain or sufferings.

“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. 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,” the 29-year-old told ESPNcricinfo.

Despite boasting about the ethnic diversities of its cities, Yorkshire was not welcoming to Asian players and the concept of “institutional racism” is at the peak in the club according to Rafiq.

“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? 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,” Azeem Rafiq added.

Yorkshire don’t want to listen: Azeem Rafiq

Hurling some serious allegations against his last club Yorkshire, the former captain of the club said that he believes that the club is institutionally racist and they are not prepared to acknowledge the fact or willingness to change. Since Rafiq has been out of the game, he wants to point out the faults of the club so that the people belonging to similar backgrounds do not have to undergo suicidal tendencies. Notably, Azeem was released by Yorkshire in 2018 and has been away from the game since then.

“Yorkshire don’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.”

“But not this time. Not again. I know what I’m doing here. I know that by speaking out I’m damaging my chances of working in the game again. But I also know it’s the right thing to do and if I have to stand alone to do it, I will,” Rafiq concluded.