Rafiq says 'time for truths' as MPs probe cricket racism scandal

·3-min read

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq will appear before British lawmakers on Tuesday with the chance to give an unvarnished account of his experiences of discrimination at the club that is engulfed in a racism scandal.

An independent report found the Pakistan-born player was a victim of "racial harassment and bullying" while Rafiq himself said he had been driven to thoughts of suicide over the way he was treated.

Although the county apologised, they said they would take no disciplinary action against any staff -- a decision that was met with disbelief in many quarters.

Pakistan-born Rafiq, 30, will give evidence to MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee on Tuesday without fear of repercussions under parliamentary privilege.

Azeem tweeted a short video on Monday, with the message: "Time for TRUTHS!!"

The fallout for Yorkshire -- one of England's most successful and historic clubs -- has been swift and devastating.

Sponsors have pulled out and the club has been suspended from hosting lucrative international matches.

Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton quit earlier this month and chief executive Mark Arthur followed him out of the exit door as the Headingley club grappled with the fallout from the crisis.

Subsequent allegations of racism have been made by other players, setting in motion additional investigations at Yorkshire and other clubs as the scandal spreads.

Hutton will also give evidence during the session, along with England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison.

- Rashid allegation -

On Monday, current England spinner Adil Rashid joined ex-Pakistan Test player Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in alleging that former England Test captain Michael Vaughan had said in front of a group of Yorkshire players of Asian ethnicity in 2009: "Too many of you lot, we need to do something about it."

Vaughan has again "categorically" denied making the comment.

"To be confronted with this allegation 11 years after it was supposed to have happened is the worst thing I have ever experienced," he said in a statement.

Yorkshire player Rashid, who issued a statement on Monday via The Cricketer website, said the "cancer" of racism must be stamped out.

"I'm encouraged by the fact that a parliamentary committee seems to be trying to improve the situation, whether that's holding people accountable or getting changes made at an institutional level," he said.

New Yorkshire chairman Kamlesh Patel welcomed Rashid's "courage in speaking up" and said he would be listening to the DCMS committee hearing with great interest.

"It is right that the issues which were initially brought up by Azeem Rafiq, and the way in which they were handled, are properly examined by the committee," he said.

"We have provided the committee with a copy of the full report, given its legal interest in the case."

It was still unclear on Monday afternoon who else from the Yorkshire leadership team would give evidence to the lawmakers.

Former chairman Hutton was listed to speak at 1015 GMT, after Rafiq at 0930 GMT.

Committee chairman Julian Knight pulled no punches earlier this month, saying the Yorkshire scandal was one of the "most repellent and disturbing episodes in modern cricket history".

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