Azeem Rafiq says he was ‘incredibly hurt’ after Joe Root claimed he has no recollection of any racist incidents during his time at Yorkshire.
England captain Root spoke on the issue as well as releasing a statement on Thursday, where he called for ‘change and actions’ from the county and said the issue has ‘fractured our game and torn lives apart’.
Root, who is currently in Australia leading the Test side’s Ashes preparations, issued a statement following weeks of escalating pressure at the club he has represented since childhood.
In response to Root’s remarks, Rafiq tweeted on Thursday: ‘Disappointed is not even the feeling. Incredibly Hurt. But uncomfortable truths are hard to accept it seems.’
Root’s former team-mate Rafiq was found by an independent report to have been subject to racial harassment and bullying and subsequent allegations have emerged from others setting in motion additional investigations.
Root (third right) pictured next to Rafiq (second right) and Gary Ballance (right) after a county match in 2012 between Yorkshire and Essex – Ballance has since admitted calling Rafiq ‘P***’ while on Thursday, Root said he does not recall the allegations of racism Rafiq has made
Rafiq promptly took to Twitter to say he was ‘incredibly hurt’ by Root’s remarks
England captain Root, who is in Australia leading preparations for the Ashes, spoke out on the matter on Thursday and also released a statement on the scandal that has rocked Yorkshire
Speaking on Thursday, Root was asked if he recognised the incidents of racism that have been reported.
‘Not that I can recall, no I can’t,’ he said. ‘But it is clear things have happened at the club and we have to make sure we eradicate it.
‘We look to find ways to make sure this never happens again in the sport and, as I said before, beyond that as well in society.
‘I’ve spent a long time reflecting on what’s happened. I can only speak from my personal experiences. The thing that’s really disappointing is that this has happened, and we have to find a way to move forward.’
It comes as last week, Root’s Yorkshire and former England team-mate Gary Ballance admitted calling Rafiq ‘P***’.
‘I deeply regret some of the language I used in my younger years,’ Ballance said. ‘The independent enquiry, having heard all of the evidence, accepted that the context of some of the language used was in a ‘friendly verbal attack’ between friends which was not intended to offend or hurt and that no malice was intended.
‘Given my incredibly close relationship with Rafa over the years I am saddened that it has come to this.’
A former Yorkshire team-mate of Root’s, Rafiq was found by an independent report to have been subject to racial harassment and bullying
Root said in a statement earlier on Thursday: ‘In my capacity as England captain and as a senior player at Yorkshire, I feel compelled to address the current situation that has consumed the sport and YCCC.
‘I just want the sport to be a place where everyone is enjoying it for the beautiful game it is and feels equal and safe. It hurts knowing this has happened at YCCC so close to home. It’s my club that I care passionately about it. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting. There is no debate about racism, no one side or other. It is simply intolerable.
‘These events have fractured our game and torn lives apart. We must now recover and come back together as fans, players, media, and those who work within cricket. We have an opportunity to make the sport I love better for everyone.
‘I want to see change and actions that will see YCCC rise from this with a culture that harnesses a diverse environment with trust across all communities that support cricket in the county.
‘We need to educate, unify and reset. I will reach out to YCCC new Chair, Lord Patel, to offer support however I’m able.
‘We have to find a way to move forward and make sure this never happens again. In my opinion, this is a societal issue and needs addressing further afield than just cricket.
‘That being said, we, as a sport, all have to do more. How can we all help shape things moving forward positively? What can everyone from myself, the ECB, counties, players, officials and others in the sport do to improve the state of the game?
‘I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I think we need to educate more and earlier; we must call it out straight away and have our eyes and ears open more.
The 30-year-old Root plays his county cricket for Yorkshire, where he is a senior player
Root (left) is currently in Australia, leading the England preparations for the Ashes tour
‘Inclusivity, diversity and anti-discrimination is something over the past few years the England teams I have been involved in have spent a lot of time talking about and are very passionate about improving and making a big difference.
‘It’s a big part of our culture, and we want to celebrate our diversity. We are representing England, and in that, we are representing the multicultural society we live in. We want all the fans to be able to enjoy what we do on the field and feel proud about who’s representing them.
‘With the Ashes fast approaching, I’d really like the fans back home to unite and get behind us as a team. We will be playing for you all.’