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Rafiq says he was forced to leave England after being abused for speaking out on racism

Rafiq says he was forced to leave England after being abused for speaking out on racism

Former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq said he was "driven out" of England after speaking about his experiences last year on the racism he faced at the county club and that he still lacks support from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
Rafiq, a former captain of the England Under-19 side and of Pakistani descent, had told a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee in November 2021 he received sustained racist abuse and had contemplated suicide while at Yorkshire.

His allegations of institutional racism rocked English cricket, leading to sweeping changes at the club and encouraging other victims to come forward.
Speaking again to the DCMS panel on

Tuesday, the 31-year-old said he did not feel supported even though he now receives round-the-clock security from the ECB.

"In the last couple of months, I've received 24-7 security, but I have been forced to leave. Providing security has been good throughout, but there was no protection at times," Rafiq told the committee.

"I've felt even the ECB has been involved in the leaking and planting of stories about me. My medical information and data has been shared. I have made that point to the new (ECB) chair (Richard Thompson).

"I've felt that when there has been any chance to discredit my experiences, I felt like even the ECB has tried to do that. For me, I don't think it's about individuals. The structural problems within cricket are a lot bigger.

"If I was to look at 13 months on from me opening my heart out all that's changed really is that me and my family have been driven out of the country. And that's a sad element of it."

Rafiq said that the abuse he faced included a man defecating outside his parents' house.

"The way I've been attacked and abused, why would you speak out? I've got a little hope in the new ECB leadership, but it's very little at the minute," Rafiq said.

The ECB said the evidence heard by the panel demonstrated why widespread change was needed in cricket and why delivering lasting cultural change would require action over many years.

"We are committed to achieving this, and have been listening carefully to today's testimony which will play an important part in helping us understand the further work that is needed," the ECB said in a statement.

"Since the testimony given by Rafiq to the select committee a year ago, significant action has been taken across cricket and progress has been made in tackling discrimination and making the sport more welcoming and inclusive.

"But we are well aware there remains much more work to do."
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