'Thought Of Dying By Suicide Due To Racism At Yorkshire': Former England U-19 Cricketer Azeem Rafiq

"I was living my family's dream as a professional cricketer, but inside I was dying. I was dreading going to work. I was in pain every day,” Rafiq said.

India   |   5 Sep 2020 4:25 AM GMT
Writer : Reethu Ravi | Editor : Sumanti Sen | Creatives : Abhishek M
Thought Of Dying By Suicide Due To Racism At Yorkshire: Former England U-19 Cricketer Azeem Rafiq

Image Credits: Azeem Rafiq/Instagram

Azeem Rafiq, the former England U-19 cricketer, has accused English county club Yorkshire of "institutional racism" and said that the experience left him on the verge of suicide.

In an interview to ESPNCricinfo, Rafiq said he chose to speak out in the hope that he can prevent others from "feeling the same pain."

"I know how close I was to committing suicide during my time at Yorkshire. I was living my family's dream as a professional cricketer, but inside I was dying. I was dreading going to work. I was in pain every day," he told the media.

After leaving Yorkshire, the former England youth captain quit cricket in 2018.

"There were times I did things to try and fit in that, as a Muslim, I now look back on and regret. I'm not proud of it at all," the 29-year-old said.

"But as soon as I stopped trying to fit in, I was an outsider. There were no coaches on the staff from a similar background who understood what it was like," he added.

While the country has a sizeable Asian community and Sachin Tendulkar was the first overseas player to represent the club in 1992, Rafiq claimed that these meant nothing.

"Despite the ethnic diversity of the cities in Yorkshire, despite the love for the game from Asian communities, how many people from those backgrounds are making it into the first team?" he said.

"Do I think there is institutional racism? It's at its peak in my opinion. It's worse than it's ever been," he added.

The former cricketer further said, "Yorkshire don't want to listen and they don't want to change. And part of the reason for that is the people who were involved in the incidents I'm talking about are still at the club. They just want to sweep it under the carpet."

Meanwhile, the club is yet to comment on Rafiq's claims.

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