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Azeem Rafiq doesn’t want his kids to play cricket and ‘be in pain’ from racism

On Tuesday, Rafiq gave evidence before a UK parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) panel and shared his experiences of being subjected to racism while playing for Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC).

An investigation into the allegations found that Rafiq had been subjected to racial harassment and bullying in his time at YCCC.

During the hearing, Rafiq described cricket’s racism problem as “worse than society” and says he wouldn’t trust the sport to look after his children.

“I don’t want my son or daughter to be in pain,” he told CNN Sport’s Darren Lewis. “As a parent, there is nothing worse than watching your kids suffer in any way, and professional sport over the last few years has shown that these people come into the game as kids and the institutions mold them into these characters.

“I wouldn’t hand my kids over to adults who don’t know how to deal with kids.”

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq says that he wouldn't trust the sport to look after his children.

Despite Rafiq’s hours-long testimony and the admission from former YCCC chairman Roger Hutton that the club is institutionally racist, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison refused to label YCCC as such.

When being questioned by lawmakers, Harrison only said that English cricket “may” have let Rafiq down.

“I’d say please understand that we’re really sorry for the experiences you may have been through trying to experience cricket in this country,” Harrison said.

“We know we may have let you down. We’ll fix it fast. We know the survival of our sport depends on it. We’ll transform this game very quickly.”

Rafiq told CNN it was “disappointing to hear how that was answered.”

“Roger Hutton described Yorkshire [CCC] as ‘institutionally racist’ and I think it was an opportunity for the leaders in the game to actually show that they get it,” Rafiq added.

“But I think [again] the ECB showed yesterday they just don’t get it.”

Yorkshire County Cricket Club was described as "institutionally racist" by their former chairman Roger Hutton.

In response, an ECB spokesperson told CNN in a statement: “Azeem has shown incredible courage in speaking out, and we are appalled by what he has experienced. His evidence was harrowing, and this must be a turning point for our game.

“We utterly condemn racism or discrimination of any kind and there is no place for it in our game. We are thoroughly investigating these events, will take the necessary action, and must learn lessons as a game.

“Azeem’s witness statement forms an important part of our investigations,” it added. “On Friday, we will also come together as a whole game to address these issues and find a way forward to improve our sport.”

Speaking to CNN after Rafiq’s Tuesday testimony, former England cricketer Monty Panesar said the former Yorkshire cricketer was “really brave, determined and showed great courage” to speak out on the racism he faced in the sport.

“In years to come, we will see this as a significant moment of change in cricket and society,” Panesar told CNN Sport’s Alex Thomas. “And Azeem Rafiq should be applauded for his brave comments.”

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