Former Yorkshire captain Azeem Rafiq has filed a legal complaint against the English team after claiming direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race. Rafiq, who played for Yorkshire in two spells between 2008 and 2018, is also claiming victimisation and detriment as a result of his efforts to address racism at the club. The 29-year-old, once the youngest captain in the county’s history, initially spoke out in August about the racist abuse and has now taken legal action.
“Those who have, like me, been on the receiving end of racism and discrimination will understand how hard it is to open up about the pain and suffering it causes,” Rafiq said.
“I feel a sense of relief to finally speak about it and that my healing process can now begin.
“I hope this claim will give me the closure I need and that the recommendations from the tribunal will help bring about change for our future generations in cricket.”
The law firm representing Rafiq, Chadwick Lawrence, said the claim, which has gone to the Leeds Employment Tribunal, sets out the “expressly racist dressing room banter” Rafiq and other non-white players experienced.
This included the use of terms such as “P**i”, “elephant washer”, and telling such players to “go back where you came from”, the firm said.
It is claimed Yorkshire failed to respect the beliefs of Pakistani players or players of Pakistani ethnicity, including the non-provision of Halal food facilities.
Rafiq’s legal claim states that there were attempts to enforce a drinking culture on those players.
The claim references an occasion where players and officials laughed at alcohol being thrown over a Muslim child and on-field racist abuse directed towards a black South African player.
Rafiq was also allegedly referred to as ‘Raffa the Kaffir’, while it is said he was denied opportunities afforded to white players, including the chance to play Twenty20 cricket in the winter.
Rafiq said Yorkshire ignored his complaints of racism and victimisation throughout 2018 and the severe mental health issues he suffered as a result of his treatment by the club included depression and contemplating suicide.
Yorkshire commissioned an independent law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, to investigate Rafiq’s allegations of institutional racism earlier this year.
An independent panel, chaired by Dr Samir Pathak, will review the law firm’s findings and provide recommendations on further steps the club should take.
The legal claim from Rafiq under the Equality Act is a separate process.
He is seeking a declaration from the club that they acted unlawfully, as well as financial damages.
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