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Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq is having to leave the UK and take his family to live overseas because of continued racist abuse. Photo: AFP

Cricketer Azeem Rafiq to leave UK to ‘protect family’ amid continuous racist abuse

  • The Pakistan-born former Yorkshire spinner is due to move overseas in the near future with his wife, children and parents
  • He raised allegations of racism and bullying, which eventually led to a mass clear-out of senior boardroom figures and coaching staff

Azeem Rafiq, whose allegations of racism last year plunged English cricket into crisis, is leaving Britain to protect his family from further abuse and intimidation, a report said on Friday.

The ex-Yorkshire spinner is due to move overseas in the near future with his wife, children and parents, The Cricketer magazine reported.

The Pakistan-born former player first raised allegations of racism and bullying in September 2020, related to his two spells at Yorkshire, which eventually led to a mass clear-out of senior boardroom figures and coaching staff.

Rafiq, 31, gave harrowing testimony to a committee of lawmakers about his treatment in November last year.

An independent report found the Pakistan-born player was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying” while playing for the county club, with Rafiq himself revealing he had been driven to thoughts of suicide.

“I felt isolated, humiliated at times,” Rafiq told the hearing in London. “Pretty early on, me and other people from an Asian background … there were comments such as ‘you’ll sit over there near the toilets’, ‘elephant-washers’.

“The word ‘Paki’ was used constantly. And there just seemed to be an acceptance in the institution from the leaders and no one ever stamped it out.”

Yorkshire coaching staff leave cricket club amid racism scandal

Rafiq, who is a Muslim, also recounted a frightening experience of being forced to drink alcohol at the age of 15 as a club player in Yorkshire.

“I got pinned down at my local cricket club and had red wine poured down my throat, literally down my throat,” he said.

The club and a number of individuals were charged in June this year by the England and Wales Cricket Board following an investigation by the governing body into how the county dealt with the racism allegations.

Rafiq previously said his family had been subjected to “threats, attacks and intimidation” since he spoke out against his former club.

The report in The Cricketer refers to a spate of recent threats made online and in person to the former player.

It highlighted one case in which an individual was filmed on CCTV defecating in his parents’ garden while in another instance, a masked intruder is alleged to have been seen near the property.

Rafiq posted a link to The Cricketer article on his Twitter feed, along with the brief message: “Sad reality of speaking out”.

Earlier this week, Rafiq was among five current and former players reprimanded by the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) for historical social media posts of a “racist” nature.

All of the individuals admitted culpability in relation to the charges brought by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club was suspended from staging international matches after the England and Wales Cricket Board strongly condemned their handling of a racism row involving Azeem Rafiq. Photo: AFP

Rafiq, who had previously apologised for posting the anti-Semitic messages, repeated his apology following the announcement of the disciplinary action.

He tweeted: “This summer, I unequivocally accepted a charge from the ECB regarding my anti-Semitic social media post from 2011. You will hear no complaint from me about the CDC’s decision today.

“It is deserved and I fully accept this reprimand. I want to repeat my apology to the Jewish community. I remain ashamed and embarrassed.”

Women cricketers Danielle Wyatt and Evelyn Jones both appeared in an Instagram post that featured “fancy dress with blackface” as well as inappropriate captions.

Veteran Somerset seamer Jack Brooks used a racially offensive term.