Azeem Rafiq, English cricketer, of Pakistani origin, denounced Tuesday before a parliamentary committee the
institutionalized racism in English clubs which earned him « humiliating treatment » and « cost (his) career ».
Sometimes with his throat tight and with tears coming to his eyes, the former Yorkshire (north) club player – a real institution in English cricket – said he had
felt isolated and sometimes humiliated through the words or actions of teammates and the inaction of leaders.
Quite early on, towards me or against other people of Asian origin – a term which in Great Britain designates people from the Indian subcontinent, India and Pakistan in particular – there were comments of the type + go sit down over there, next to the toilet + or + elephant washer, he told the parliamentary committee in charge of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports.
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“Do you think there is institutionalized racism? Yes «
The term (disparaging) + Paki + was used constantly. And there seemed to be great tolerance within the institution on the part of the leaders because no one ever reacted, he continued.
Do you think there is institutionalized racism in cricket?, asked a deputy. « Yes, I think so, » Rafiq replied. He was invited to testify after an independent report established that he had been the victim of
racist harassment and persecution within the club, which had led him, he assured, to suicidal thoughts. In particular, he recounted how, at age 15, in a car in front of his local cricket club, he was forced to drink red wine, even though he is a Muslim.
Do I think racism cost me my career? Yes I think so, he also replied to a deputy, after having mentioned the repercussions on his family life. At first, the Yorkshire club apologized, but refused to take disciplinary action.
Under the pressure of the withdrawal of big sponsors and the ban on hosting very lucrative international meetings, the club’s president, Roger Hutton and its general manager, Mark Arthur, had ended up resigning, while the coach Andrew Gale had been suspended for using racist terms.
Since then, other testimonies have appeared throughout the country, in particular against Michael Vaughn, a former English star, accused by at least two players of having told players from the Indian subcontinent (India and Pakistan in particular), including a former teammate,
there are too many people like you, we will have to fix it, which he denies.