Yorkshire racism crisis: Rafiq says cricket needs 'cultural change' as Ballance issues apology

By Sports Desk November 04, 2021

Azeem Rafiq says cricket desperately needs "reform and cultural change" after Gary Ballance admitted using a racial slur towards his former Yorkshire team-mate.

Ex-England batsman Ballance on Wednesday released a statement admitting he was responsible for some of the offensive and inappropriate language Rafiq was subjected to during his time at Headingley.

Ballance, 31, said he deeply regrets some of the language he used in his younger years, describing Rafiq as his "best mate in cricket".

The Zimbabwe-born former Yorkshire captain claimed he and Rafiq had "said offensive things to each other which, outside of that context, would be considered wholly inappropriate".

An independent report into Rafiq's allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club upheld that the spinner had been victim of "racial harassment and bullying”.

It also emerged the independent panel had deemed repeated use of the "P***" word against Rafiq was "in the spirit of friendly banter", according to ESPNcricinfo.

Rafiq on Thursday responded to Ballance's statement by posting on Twitter: "I'm not intending to say very much until the [Department for Culture, Media and Sport's] select committee hearing later this month. However, 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 my club desperately need reform and cultural change."

Rafiq and Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton are due to appear in front of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's select committee to give evidence on November 16.

Publishing company Emerald has been among the sponsors Yorkshire have lost due to their handling of the Rafiq case.

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