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Azeem Rafiq racism storm: what do anti-Semitic messages say, Yorkshire cricket?




Azeem Rafiq has apologized after anti-Semitic messages were revealed after he shared disturbing stories of being a victim of racism.

Azeem Rafiq, a former England cricketer who this week said he had lost his career to racism, admitted to sending anti-Semitic messages as a teenager.

The times newspaper discovered messages sent to former Warwickshire and Leicestershire player Ateeq Javid in which Rafiq makes disparaging comments about an unnamed Jewish person.

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Rafiq, who tweeted about those comments on Thursday, said: “I went back to check my account and I am — I have absolutely no excuses.

“I am ashamed of this exchange and have now removed it so as not to cause further offense,” added the 30-year-old Pakistani-born cricketer.

“I was 19 then and I hope and believe that I am a different person today. I am incredibly angry with myself and I apologize to the Jewish community and everyone who has rightly been offended by this.”

British Jews’ Council of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, responded by saying in a statement: “Azeem Rafiq has suffered terribly at the hands of racists in cricket so he will understand how much pain this exchange will cause among Jews who supported him.

“His apology certainly seems sincere and we have no reason to believe that he is not entirely sincere.”

Rafiq, a Muslim, has been widely acclaimed for giving a disturbing account to a parliamentary committee on Tuesday of the racism he suffered during two spells with Yorkshire, after previously saying the abuse had led him to consider committing suicide.

The former off-spinner, whose case has led to further revelations at other county clubs, told the committee: “Do I believe I lost my career to racism? Yes I do.”

He also named a number of former team-mates, including ex-England internationals including Gary Ballance, still in Yorkshire, who had used racist remarks against him.

The impact of the scandal on Yorkshire, one of English cricket’s oldest and most prestigious counties, has been devastating, with sponsors leaving en masse and the club suspended from hosting lucrative international matches.

But Rafiq warned that Yorkshire, whose chairman and chief executive have both resigned, could not continue until head coach Andrew Gale and cricket director Martyn Moxon had left the Headingley club.

Gale himself is currently suspended pending investigations into a historic anti-Semitic tweet, in which former England batsman Moxon signed with a stress-related illness.

Rafiq accused Gale of continued racial abuse and Moxon of systematic bullying, including an outburst on Rafiq’s first day after his son’s stillbirth.

On Thursday, the British government warned England’s cricket governing body it was facing the “nuclear option” of independent regulation amid widespread criticism of how it had handled Rafiq’s revelations.

Tom Harrison, CEO of the England and Wales Cricket Board, who also testified before the same committee on Tuesday as Rafiq, insisted his organization was “fit for purpose” as both the promoter and regulator of the game.

But Sports Secretary Nigel Huddleston warned that if the ECB “don’t get their act together, we have the nuclear option to legislate to potentially bring in an independent regulator”.

Harrison was due to attend an ECB board meeting on Thursday and will be revisited at a broader “all-game” meeting of its 41 constituent members – including the 18 first-class provinces and MCC – at the Oval on Friday, where the Rafiq scandal will be discussed.

But if Harrison were impeached, there would be a leadership vacuum after ECB President Ian Watmore stepped down last month following the controversial decision to cancel a Pakistan tour of England scheduled for October.




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