England captain Joe Root says Yorkshire racism scandal has 'fractured our game and torn lives apart'

ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott reports on England’s Test captain breaking his silence on the continuing racism scandal at his county side Yorkshire

England cricket captain and Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) player Joe Root says the racism scandal that has engulfed his club has "fractured our game and torn lives apart".

In a written statement released on Thursday morning, Root says he felt "compelled" to address the situation, after figures and former players at Yorkshire County Cricket Club were accused of racially abusing some of their ethnic minority cricketers.

Root later gave an online press conference where he answered some questions on racism at the cricket club.

"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," Root said in his written statement.

"It hurts knowing this has happened at YCCC so close to home. It’s my club that I care passionately about it.

"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."

Root's comments come after former player Azeem Rafiq made allegations of institutional racism against the club during two spells there between 2008 and 2018.

Roger Hutton resigned from his post as chairman of the club last week in the wake of the claims.

His replacement, Lord Patel, said "urgent and seismic" change is needed to address racism at Yorkshire CCC.

On Thursday, it was announced the club's Chief Executive Officer, Mark Arthur, was also resigning with immediate effect.

In a statement, Yorkshire CCC said: "This is an important moment for the Club which is ready to move forward with new leadership, which will be vital in driving the change we urgently need.  

"We know there is still much work to be done and more difficult decisions to be made. We need to rebuild the trust of the fans, the cricketing world and the public".

Hours after Root's responses to claims of racism at Yorkshire CCC, Azeem Rafiq tweeted: "Disappointed is not even the feeling".

The cricketer went onto say he was "incredibly hurt", and that "uncomfortable truths are hard to accept it seems".

Root, 30, said fans, players, media, and those who work in cricket must now recover and work together to improve the sport. He also called for change at Yorkshire, and urged the club - and the England Cricket Board - to create a culture where ethnic minority players feel welcome.

"We have an opportunity to make the sport I love better for everyone.

"We need to educate, unify and reset. I will reach out to YCCC new Chair, Lord Patel, to offer support however I’m able", he said.

Joe Root told ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott every county cricket club must find ways to eradicate racism from the sport

Root, who is from Sheffield, also says he wants the English cricket world to "celebrate our diversity" and that inclusivity and anti-discrimination are issues that England teams are "very passionate" about improving.

"We want all the fans to be able to enjoy what we do on the field and feel proud about who’s representing them."

In a video press conference on Thursday morning - after the release of Root's written statement - the England captain told journalists he wanted cricket to "move forward" and "learn" from the mistakes made at Yorkshire CCC.

People who have committed racist abuse should be given "a second chance" if they accept they've made a mistake, Joe Root said

Root also denied seeing any individual instances of racism at the club, but said the culture needs to change.

The all-rounder, who was part of England's victorious 2019 Cricket World Cup team, went on to say that people found guilty of racist abuse should be given a second chance, and the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

"If people are willing to accept they've made a mistake and they want to make change and they want to move forward then I think that's really important as well.

"We're all human beings and that's something we have to remember within this.

"Of course people have been deeply hurt throughout this whole thing, but ultimately we've got to find a way to move forward.", he said.