Rafiq ‘incredibly proud’ of Haq, Sheikh for speaking up on racism

In this file video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament´s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) taken on November 16, 2021 former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq testifies in front of a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee in London as MPs probe racial harassment at the club. — AFP

Azeem Rafiq said he was “incredibly proud” of former Scotland cricketers Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh for speaking out about the racist abuse they had suffered in their careers, which led to a damning review into Cricket Scotland.

The review, which was backed by SportScotland, was published on Monday and said the governance and leadership practices of Cricket Scotland were “institutionally racist”. 

It was commissioned after Haq and Sheikh spoke out about the abuse they had suffered, with both players saying they were treated differently due to the colour of their skin.

Rafiq, whose allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire rocked English cricket last year, stressed the importance of reaching out to individuals who had suffered abuse before moving forward.

“I’m just incredibly proud of them and everyone else that played a part in the review,” Rafiq told Sky Sports on Monday. “I hope today gives them some sense of closure and that they’ve been fully vindicated.”

“There’s a lot of people that have suffered a lot of abuse over a lot of years,” Rafiq said.

“There’s got to be an attempt to build those bridges back, speak to them, re-engage them, apologise. Once that is done, and only then, it’s important to look to the future — and how we do that.”

After Rafiq spoke about the discrimination he faced while at Yorkshire, the British government-backed calls to limit public funding for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) unless they were able to demonstrate progress in getting rid of racism. 

However, Rafiq said cutting Cricket Scotland’s funding was not necessary at this stage.

“If there’s an acceptance and an apology, then they need to be supported to make sure the change comes and comes quicker,” Rafiq said.

“If things don’t change and if there’s a resistance to change, then I think at that point SportScotland need to come down a lot harsher.”

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