Azeem Rafiq: 'I might have been listened to finally' about Yorkshire racism

Cricketer Azeem Rafiq says he "might have just been listened to finally" after an emotional session giving evidence to MPs about racism he experienced while playing for Yorkshire.

The former player told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee yesterday (16 November) he suffered "constant" slurs leaving him feeling "humiliated."

This morning, he told ITV Calendar he feels a "massive sense of relief", and that he might have finally been listened to.

He said: "I feel like some sense of closure. But I wish it never got to this. But I think when it became very evident that this is what it was going to take I was pretty determined to make sure that my voice was going to be heard.

"Because I know how many people are fearful to come forward. Some very prominent people are really scared to come forward. But I just wanted to become a voice for everyone and hopefully yesterday I've done that."

Rafiq first made allegations of racism last year but there was criticism of Yorkshire County Cricket Club's handling of the claims after it said nobody would face disciplinary action over them.

This month major sponsors withdrew their support from the club and the Chairman resigned.

Reflecting on his evidence in front of MPs, he said: "Over the last 16 to 18 months I've been left hurt, disappointed, left on my own".

Rafiq told MPs yesterday that the stillbirth of his son mad him realise the situation he was facing at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

He continued: "People who I thought would stand with me have left me on my own continuously. It's been a real battle. But I knew the truth could not be changed and that is all I wanted to tell.

"I think it's important that this is not made about me. It's really important. I'm not just saying that because it's a nice line.

"I seriously think there is a lot of people who have been victims of this abuse in all walks of life and it's important that we don't make it about me, we listen to everyone.

"Genuinely moving forward we have to use this as an opportunity to grab the change that we all want."

The new Chairman Lord Patel has announced a series of changes to tackle the racism scandal, including a whistleblowing hotline which was launched this week.

Rafiq said he was "encouraged" at Lord Patel's start in the role.

He said: "I think he's got a massive opportunity. Everything up to now, what I've seen and heard from him, does give me a tiny glimmer of hope. But I also know there's also a lot of people there that'll be resistant to change and a lot of people there that are still stuck in the institution as it was. But look, he's got a chance. we'll be watching. He's got to do it and he's got to do it quick."

And asked if he can ever see himself walking back through the gates at Headingley, Rafiq said: "In time, possibly. It's my club, it's hurts me to see it where it is. And I tried everything for it not to get there.

"And if the leadership hadn't been so... stubborn and so arrogant in their ways we wouldn't be here. I think in time, hopefully. It's my club at the end of the day, I'm a capped player there."