Interim Yorkshire Cricket coach Ryan Sidebottom apologies over Azeem Rafiq racism row comments

Former Yorkshire and England bowler Ryan Sidebottom and Azeem Rafiq Credit: Press Association

Former Yorkshire and England bowler Ryan Sidebottom has issued an apology for saying the club should try to "forget" about the Azeem Rafiq racism row.

Sidebottom, who was taken on as an interim coach last week by Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC), was discussing the issue in a television interview.

He told Sky Sports it had been "tough viewing" and "very difficult" for lots of people.

He said: "Let's try and forget about it. There's no room for racism in any walk of lifeand hopefully now we can move forward, sort things out, do the right thing andget Yorkshire back firing on all cylinders.

"But it's been a tough couple of months hasn't it for Yorkshire and everyone at the club."

Former player Rafiq's allegations about institutional racism at Yorkshire resulted in the resignation of chairman Roger Hutton and chief executive Mark Arthur.

Sixteen members of staff including director of cricket Martyn Moxon and first-team coach Andrew Gale were sacked.

Rafiq, who told a parliamentary committee that racial slurs "used constantly" during his two spells at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, left him feeling "humiliated" in front of other players, posted a furious response to Sidebottom's comments on social media.

He attached a video of Sidebottom's interview and said "Let's definitely not just 'Forget it' learn from it and make things better. Wish it was that easy just to forget it and pretend nothing happened."

Sidebottom responded and tweeted an apology saying he was 'truly sorry for any offence caused'.

He said: "I disagree wholeheartedly with discrimination and fully support all investigations and actions surrounding any racial abuse at Yorkshire CCC.

"In my interview with Sky Sports News I used the word 'forget'. This is not what I meant.

"I didn't mean that the situation should be forgotten about, on the contrary, it must never be forgotten. It was a poor choice of words.

"It is crucial that the club, and sport as a whole, learns and adapts to create a truly inconclusive environment for all, at all levels. I apologise for any offence caused."

He went onto say that he is now 'focused on supporting the playing group at Yorkshire CCC on the pitch.'

The England and Wales Cricket Board's investigation into Rafiq's allegations of Yorkshire's handling of the case is on-going.