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Azeem Rafiq fears he is 'unemployable' after speaking out about racism

The former off-spinner accused Yorkshire of failing to deal adequately with the abuse he suffered.

Azeem Rafiq (file pic).
Azeem Rafiq (file pic).
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

AZEEM RAFIQ fears he may have become “unemployable” within cricket after speaking out about the racism he suffered during his two spells at Yorkshire.

Former off-spinner Rafiq, 31, accused Yorkshire of failing to deal adequately with the abuse he suffered at the northern county, saying he had been driven to thoughts of suicide.

The Pakistan-born Rafiq’s revelations eventually led to turmoil at Yorkshire, with sponsors making a mass exodus and the club suspended from hosting lucrative international matches — a right that has only recently been conditionally restored.

Rafiq’s allegations, restated in harrowing testimony he gave to a committee of lawmakers last month, also led to a wholesale clear-out of Yorkshire’s senior management and coaching staff.

They also prompted the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to announce a new initiative to tackle racism within the game.

Rafiq, however, said Tuesday he was worried his candour had come at a price.

“I feel like people are scared to be connected to me because I will continue to fight for the truth,” he told the PA news agency at the Include Summit in Birmingham.

“I sit here as a 31-year-old, potentially unemployable, potentially (without) any hope of being around the game in the future, a game that I’ve loved for the majority of my life.

“Something that I thought, after letting off the burden that I’ve been carrying for a long time, that I’d be able to love again and start going back towards and follow my passion within it.”

Rafiq added: “My passion away from playing is coaching…So that was one thing that I always wanted to do and the other thing was within a media, broadcasting.

“I just don’t know how I can come back when the game is still not accepting the reality. Of course, I’d love to (come back).”

But Rafiq, who has said he and his family have received threats to their physical safety, said cricket was still not treating the issue or racism seriously.

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“It wants to put this across as Azeem Rafiq’s experience,” he said. “It’s not, it’s the experience of thousands of others.”

Rafiq was also unconvinced by the ECB’s latest scheme to combat racism.

“The whole action plan is really difficult for me to have any faith in it because we’ve seen it before,” he said.

“From a county point of view, they don’t actually think that there is a problem, which is incredibly worrying.”

– © AFP 2022

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