‘The cost of not speaking up was too much’ – Azeem Rafiq on Yorkshire racism saga

Azeem Rafiq. (Photo by Philip Brown/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq’s fight against racism in English cricket continues amidst which, the 31-year-old on Thursday, November 18 revealed the kind of trauma he has been going through ever since he filed a report.

Now, even though the allegations against seven Yorkshire cricketers were made two years ago, Cricket Disciplinary Committee is yet to act on it and on Thursday, the committee decided to push the hearing until the new year (2023) to allow for appeals against the process.

The delay seems to have eventually pushed Rafiq into more trauma as the cricketer has now decided to shift to Pakistan after fearing for his life in England. Speaking to Osman Samiuddin on ESPNcricinfo’s Switch Hit podcast, Azeem mentioned how he is attacked every time he opens his mouth to talk on the issue. But also promised to stay adamant to see it through.

“I wanted to release trauma from myself. I’ve arguably created more trauma. I feel like I’ve been pushed to do more. Every time I open my mouth I’m creating trauma, every time I put my head above the parapet I’m making my future worse for myself. After the select committee (in 2021) there was so much hope and I’m an optimist and I still live in hope that things will get better for everyone. But I’m going to unapologetically keep calling it out.”

“You can see the cost to me. And I would argue the cost to not speaking up was way worse. I honestly don’t think I would be here if I hadn’t spoken up… My family sacrificed a lot for my cricket and they thought I was living a dream. The cost of not speaking up was too much,” he said on the show.

‘Did I think that I would have to leave the place I called home for 21 years?’ – Azeem Rafiq

In the podcast, the 31-year-old also spoke about how he doesn’t see racism coming to an end anytime soon but remains optimistic in one of the darkest chapters of his life.

“Did I think that I would have to leave the place I called home for 21 years? No. Did I think my family would be targeted the way they have? No. All it does is it proves – what these people don’t realise is that they are continuing to prove my allegations by their actions. I’ve been vindicated over and over again in processes that have been rigged against me. Because there has been no choice but to uphold the central allegations.

“It’s been over two years now and I just don’t see an end in sight. Regardless of what it’s taken out of me, I’ve got full trust in Allah. They aren’t going to scare me, they are going to push me back, they aren’t going to stop me. Because, as I said, the trauma before speaking out was large, but what it is now it’s unexplainable. No human being should have to go through what me and my family continue to be put through,” Azeem added.

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