Azeem Rafiq accuses cricket clubs of still not facing up to claims of racism

Azeem Rafiq Credit: ITV News

The former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq says too many cricket clubs are still not doing enough to tackle racism and has accused many within the sport of "not feeling the issue is as big as has been made out to be."

It is now 18 months since an investigation was started by Yorkshire County Cricket Club after Azeem Rafiq first accused the club of being "institutionally racist, revealing that the matter had left him on the brink of taking his own life.

Later he told MPs of the "constant" racial slurs which left him feeling "humiliated" while giving evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee and a subsequent damning report concluded that racism in cricket is "deep seated" with the committee calling on cricket to "clean up its act."

Last month Yorkshire Cricket Club announced a plan to source more diverse talent and while Azeem Rafiq welcomes the changes being proposed at his former club he now says he does not believe the sport more widely is doing enough to tackle racism.

Speaking at the Include Summit in Birmingham, a two day conference looking at diversity and inclusion within sport and aiming to get one million underprivileged and underrepresented young people taking part in sport, Azeem Rafiq said the sport needs to listen to the experiences of people all the way from professional level, right down to grass roots level.

He told ITV News: "Yorkshire, from everything I've seen and heard up to now, I think there's a real will to do the right thing.

"There genuinely is a genuine feeling that they want to do the right thing, and they've got good leadership in place now which are striving towards that but it's going to take time.

"From the rest, everything I've heard is that the rest of the game feels like the issue is not as big as it's being made out to be and there seems to be a lot more sympathy out there within the game for the perpetrators, as opposed to the people that have suffered over a long time.

"There's so many stories which are exactly the same throughout the game, and I think it's time we started listening, not just at the professional level, but at the grass roots level, because there's a lot of people that have suffered a lot of abuse over a lot of years."

Watch more from James Webster's interview with Azeem Rafiq: