Rafiq says ‘institutional racism’ is key issue after Ballance admits using slur

Azeem Rafiq responded on Thursday to the latest news in the Yorkshire cricket racism story after a former teammate of the cricketer, Gary Ballance, admitted using a racial slur against him.

Rafiq posted a short statement on Twitter, saying the problem is “not really about the words of certain individuals” but rather “institutional racism”.

The 30-year-old, who played for Yorkshire in two spells between 2008 e 2018, previously accused the club of “institutional racism” more than a year ago.

Nel the statement, Rafiq said: “I’m not intending to say very much until the select committee hearing later this month. tuttavia, I wanted to stress this is not really about the words of certain individuals.

“This is about institutional racism and abject failures to act by numerous leaders at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and in the wider game. The sport I love and club desperately [needs] reform and change.”

In his own statement on Wednesday night, Ballance said he had “no choice but to provide a public response” given leaks and reports to the press which he said “give a misleading impression of the evidence which was heard in the investigation”.

Ballance went on: “To be clear – I deeply regret some of the language I used in my younger years. The independent enquiry, having heard all of the evidence, accepted that the context of some of the language used was in a ‘friendly verbal attack’ between friends which was not intended to offend or hurt and that no malice was intended. Given my incredibly close relationship with Rafa over the years I am saddened that it has come to this.”

Ballance’s move followed another day of anger towards Yorkshire over their failure to take action against Rafiq’s alleged abusers that led to leading sponsors – including Emerald, whose name was attached to Yorkshire’s Headingley ground – ending their association with the club, and a group of MPs demanding an independent inquiry.

In response to a suggestion by the finance and cricket journalist Isabelle Westbury in a tweet that “it [potrebbe] be more constructive to see high profile sponsors of Yorkshire agreeing to stay on a number of strict conditions”, Rafiq last night stated: “Respect you & where you are coming from but [the sponsors] have stood by the club for 14 months hoping they would do the right thing but the club & its leaders are just not interested They still don’t think anything wrong has happened.”

Earlier Rafiq had made his views clear about what had been emerging from Yorkshire this week when he tweeted: “Institutional racism Lot of spin from @YorkshireCCC [come] to how I presented my evidence. It was always about the institution & it’s leaders that created this environment.”

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