Help me put an end to racism in cricket!

by Azeem Rafiq

Help me put an end to racism in cricket!

by Azeem Rafiq
Azeem Rafiq
Case Owner
I’m a British-Pakistani former cricketer, campaigning against racism in cricket and for a more inclusive culture where talented young players of all backgrounds can thrive.
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Azeem Rafiq
Case Owner
I’m a British-Pakistani former cricketer, campaigning against racism in cricket and for a more inclusive culture where talented young players of all backgrounds can thrive.
Pledge now

Your card will only be charged if the case meets its target of £10,000 by Dec. 13, 2020, 10 a.m.

About me

I’m a British-Pakistani former cricketer, campaigning against racism in cricket and for a more inclusive culture where talented young players of all backgrounds can thrive.

I moved to the UK from Pakistan when I was 10. After settling in Barnsley, my talent for cricket was spotted immediately and I was selected for the Yorkshire U12s side along with Joe Root. I was later selected to captain the England U15s team and soon became involved in the Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC).

Following numerous successes, I was Yorkshire's leading wicket-taker in the One Day Cup in 2017 but my stay, and ultimately my career, ended in acrimonious circumstances just a year later after being released by YCCC. The decision not to renew my contract came only a few months after my son was still-born, after a difficult and complicated pregnancy.

Throughout my time at the club, I suffered racism and discrimination, which affected my ability to progress in the sport, my performance, my enjoyment of cricket – and ultimately my career.

My case and what I am doing

I was inspired and encouraged by the Black Lives Matter movement, to speak out publicly about the racism and bullying I faced while playing for YCCC.

Whilst playing for YCCC, I had to suffer racist comments and discriminatory treatment along with other Asian players at YCCC, which left me isolated, lonely, bullied and targeted because of my race. This, in turn, affected my performance and mental health, leaving me feeling suicidal. This ultimately led to the end of my bright career in cricket, which resulted in me having lost hope in justice and wanting to run away from everything associated with cricket.

I have spoken out about the racism I faced because I don’t want kids to go through what I did. I want to see kids starting off their journey in cricket in a culture of acceptance and respect, where they are judged on their talent and not on their culture and identity. An investigation has been initiated as a result of my complaints and I hope that the investigation will result in meaningful change at the club and in the sport. I am grateful for the outpouring of support and words of encouragement I have received, in particular from parents who have shared their concerns about how their kids have been treated and who want to see change.

In order to create meaningful change for Asian players coming up through the sport, I want to see better diversity and inclusion practices and to ensure that more talented Asian players are able to come up through the ranks.

Some of what I (and others) had to suffer whilst at YCCC was as follows:-

  •  Differential treatment (also suffered by my Asian teammates) compared to other teammates, including in disciplinary matters, in coaching and development support, and in pastoral care offered by YCCC, as well as in permission to participate in professional opportunities outside of club cricket;
  • Concerns about development pathways and support for young Asian players coming through the club;
  • Prevalence of racist comments and “banter”, including being called “elephant washers”, “Pakis” and non-white players being told to “go back to where you came from”;
  • Concerns about the drinking culture at the club and within cricket, peer pressure to participate and the insensitivity towards Muslim players and supporters;
  • Incidents of racist comments from YCCC supporters and incidents of alcohol being thrown at matches, including on Asian supporters, which were not investigated or properly addressed by YCCC; and
  • A culture in which Asian families of players and Asian supporters were treated differently and were not included.

The problems that I identify I believe raise questions not just about YCCC, but about the culture in cricket in the UK more broadly and what more needs to be done to ensure a more inclusive culture.

How you can help?

I hope that you will support me in my campaign for justice and to help me bring about the changes which so desperately need to happen. 

Please share this page far and wide on social media and via WhatsApp and email.

The funds raised will not only help support me in my legal campaign for justice in the investigation which has been started and associated actions but also to bring about meaningful change for future generations to come.

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