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Azeem Rafiq expresses disappointment in Michael Vaughan and Joe Root for normalizing racism incidents at Yorkshire County Club

Gurpreet Singh

Azeem Rafiq expresses disappointment in Michael Vaughan and Joe Root for normalizing racism incidents at Yorkshire County Club

Azeem Rafiq expresses disappointment in Michael Vaughan and Joe Root for normalizing accounts of incidents of racism at Yorkshire County Club

Speaking before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee hearing on Yorkshire’s investigation into his claims of institutional racism, Azeem Rafiq exclaims that it was ‘hurtful’ for him when England Test Captain Joe Root asserted he had never personally witnessed any case of racism at the club.

Rafiq also spoke on Michael Vaughan’s role in the same, and tried to make peace with the fact that he does not wish to make it all about Vaughan, as the problem lies not in specific individuals, but how it runs down systematically and institutionally.

Azeem Rafiq expresses disappointment in Michael Vaughan and Joe Root

Joe Root, a Yorkshire player since 2009 had issued a statement last week calling for “change and actions” at the club after fellow English cricketer at the club- Gary Ballance admitted having used the slur “P**i”, which was deemed as “banter” in the club’s report into Rafiq’s claims.

It is worth noting that Ballance was Root’s former housemate while at the Yorkshire Club. While calling for the “change and actions” at the club, Root had also stated that, “Not that I can recall, no I can’t (incidents of racism). But it is clear things have happened at the club and we have to make sure we eradicate it.”

It is at this aforementioned statement from Root that doesn’t go down well with Rafiq.

“To be clear, Root is a good man,” Rafiq told the hearing on Tuesday. “He’s never engaged in racist language. I found [his statement] hurtful, because Rooty was not only Gary’s housemate but, before he started playing for England, he was involved in a lot of those socialising nights out where I’d been called a P**i.

“He might not remember it, but it just shows how normal it was in that environment, in that institution, that even a good man like him doesn’t see it for what it is. It was strange, but it’s the environment and the institution that made it such a norm that people don’t remember it. And it’s not going to affect Joe. It’s something I remember every day. But I don’t expect Joe to”, exclaimed Azeem Rafiq.

On Michael Vaughan, Rafiq had earlier remarked that he (Vaughan) noted the inclusion of four players of Asian heritage in the Yorkshire side and said: “There are too many of you lot; we need to do something about it.”

While Vaughan had simply denied having spoken anything along those lines, Rafiq’s recollections have also been corroborated by two of the Asian players who were present in the team- Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Adil Rashid.

“I think it’s important on Michael [Vaughan] that we don’t make it all about Michael,” Rafiq said. “It was a long time ago, Michael might not remember it as I said about earlier because it doesn’t mean anything. But three of us remember it.

“He used his platform at the Daily Telegraph to tell everyone that he hadn’t said these things but then to go and put a snippet of my statement out and then talk about other things, I thought was completely wrong”, said Rafiq.

Addressing the DCMS committee, Rafiq also doubled down on his criticism of Ballance, who had addressed the initial allegations by speaking of a deep and lasting friendship between the pair. This characterisation was inaccurate, Rafiq said, adding their relationship went downhill in 2013 and had become “toxic” by the time Ballance was named club captain in 2017.

About the author

Gurpreet Singh

Gurpreet Singh


Gurpreet Singh is a Cricket writer at The Sportsrush. His platonic relationship with sports had always been there since childhood, but Cricket managed to strike a special, intimate nerve of his heart. Although his initial dream of playing the sport at the highest level couldn't come to fruition, Gurpreet did represent the state of Jharkhand at the under-14 level. However, almost like taking a pledge to never let the undying passion for Cricket fade away even a tad, he made sure to continue the love relationship by assigning the field of journalism as an indirect Cupid. He thus, first finished his bachelor's in journalism and then pursued the PG Diploma course in English journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC). Soon after and since 2019, he has been working at The Sportsrush. Apart from sports, he takes keen interest in politics, and in understanding women and gender-related issues.

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