Yorkshire County Cricket Club has been rocked following the Azeem Rafiq case, and England international Moeen Ali has now spoken out about the ugly situation within the sport
World Cup winner Moeen, one of the most high-profile British Asian sportspeople, has also praised former Yorkshire all-rounder Azeem Rafiq for being brave enough to speak out about his harrowing experiences of racism during his two stints at the club.
Yorkshire received stinging criticism for their handling of Rafiq’s claims, accepting he was the victim of racial abuse but then declaring that no disciplinary action would take place.
The scandal saw them suspended from hosting international matches at Headingley by the ECB, while several major commercial partners and sponsors also cut ties with the county before chairman Roger Hutton stepped down.
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On Monday, Hutton’s replacement Lord Patel issued a public apology to Rafiq, 30, and said he should be praised for coming forward – sentiments now echoed by Moeen.
He feels Rafiq has now opened the door for others to come forward and speak out, and thinks the revelations could ultimately benefit cricket in the long run.
“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised (about the allegations) but there’s probably more stories out there that people haven’t heard of. I won’t be surprised if more do come out.
“I don’t think it’ll impact (cricket) too much. If anything it’s given a lot more people a voice, people that probably didn’t feel like they could speak previously.
“What Azeem has done he is not doing it for any personal gain. I think he wants change and that’s what he’s pushing for.
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“Going forward it might have an impact initially but I think going beyond that it will be great. Sometimes you need to have a bit of a dip to really come out and that’s from Yorkshire’s point of view as well. As a whole cricket community, culture, there is going to be big changes.”
Moeen insisted he’s never felt discriminated against in his own career, but said the type of language aimed at Rafiq, who was repeatedly called a ‘P***’ by one teammate, wasn’t acceptable.
And the 34-year-old is hopeful the national side featuring players from different racial, cultural and religious backgrounds could be a driving force for change.
He added: “A lot of people do think the game does need change, and certain areas that we’ve been pushing, coming from an England point of view.
“If you look at our team we’ve got a lot of diversity and everyone gets on well, we’ve been pushing it for a while now and hopefully for the future it’ll be good.
“It is a very unique changing room because of the different types of people that we have, it’s a very enjoyable one and it just feels like home to be honest with you.”