LONDON—English cricket was forced to confront its racist culture when former player Azeem Rafiq testified through tears at a parliamentary hearing but with a determination to expose the Islamophobia and bullying he suffered for more than a decade.
“Do I believe I lost my career to racism? Yes, I do,” said Mr. Rafiq, who played for Yorkshire—England’s most successful cricket club.
Racism complaints that led to Yorkshire launching an investigation in September 2020 reached the British Parliament after the report that dismissed some abuse as “friendly banter” led to no immediate departures from the club’s hierarchy and was not publicly released.
Mr. Rafiq told legislators that Yorkshire teammates used an offensive term referencing his Pakistani heritage and that the leadership at the 33-time winners of the English county championship failed to act on the racism.
Mr. Rafiq spoke before a House of Commons select committee. Asked if he thought cricket was institutionally racist in the country, Mr. Rafiq responded: “Yes, I do.”
Two former players at Essex have recently also said they were racially abused at that club, whose chairman recently resigned over the use of racist language at a board meeting four years ago.
Mr. Rafiq, a former England Under-19 captain, said he felt “isolated, humiliated at times” by his treatment at Yorkshire during two spells playing for the club from 2008 to 2018. (AP)