Azeem Rafiq wiped away tears when he spoke to MPs about the racism he suffered and has today apologised for using anti-Semitic slurs in a series of messages to a fellow cricketer on Facebook a decade ago

Azeem Rafiq wept when he addressed MPs about his racism. He has since apologized for using antisemitic slurs to send a series messages to another cricketer via Facebook 10 years ago. 

Azeem Rafiq today begged British Jews to forgive him as he admitted he ‘f***ed up’ and ‘deserves the flak’ over anti-Semitic tropes sent in messages to a teammate – but the ex-cricketer insisted his words ‘do differ’ from the racism he suffered for years at Yorkshire.

Mr Rafiq Atif Sheikh was an Asian cricketer, playing for Derbyshire. They also made offensive remarks about him, accusing him of not paying his dinner bill, claiming he was a Jew.

Rafiq, then 19, wrote on Facebook: ‘Hahaha he is a Jew. The police are going after me again. Later, he added that ‘Probs go after my 2nds again.’ Only Jews do that sort of s**t.’

Yesterday he issued a humbling apology about the Facebook messages a decade ago, and today said sorry again but insisted the ‘circumstances do differ’ to when he was repeatedly called a ‘P*ki’ by his Yorkshire teammates.

Interview with Jewish Chronicle: He stated that “the circumstances are different.” I doubt I have ever been able to play with anyone Jewish. It wasn’t the same. However, I refuse to downplay it. People have hurt me. It’s my honest feeling that I shouldn’t be getting flak. I f***ed up.’

But he told the newspaper that his comments were not equivalent to the racist abuse he suffered, pointing out that he had red wine forced into his mouth when his Muslim faith prevented him from drinking booze.

Recovering from his tears, he said to MPs that racism had permeated the England dressing rooms. He claimed that Gary Ballance was using the name ‘Kevin,’ which he used as an offensive term for Asian and black players. Ballance denied the allegation. Rafiq said that Alex Hales, England’s batsman, allegedly called his black dog Kevin. Hales vigorously denied these claims

Rafiq stated to the JC that he was deeply sorry. While I do not recall any antisemitic comments being made, Rafiq said that he did. People will go back through my entire life and look for any mistakes I made. I admit I’ve made mistakes.’ 

The former Yorkshire spin bowler, 30, rocked the world of sport with allegations of racism in cricket at a damning parliamentary session on Tuesday. 

Rafiq claimed that racism has destroyed his career. He also pointed fingers at several high-profile people. However, he is now forced to face his past mistakes after The Times exposed an exchange between him and Ateeq Javid in 2011. 

Rafiq told MailOnline: “I spoke with Atif today, and I apologised for the things that I had said. He was extremely understanding. I said that I was deeply sorry for any offenses. Atif was available to speak on the telephone and accepted my apology. We have spoken to Atif and he has accepted my apology. 

Some people have raised concerns that his antisemitic remarks were not the same as those made by Hitler. 

Piers Morgan tweeted: Yorkshire CC’s handling of this scandal, as I said earlier this week, has been shameful’, adding: ‘Seeing a lot of people tortuously trying to defend/justify/excuse Azeem Rafiq’s anti-Semitism. STOP. It is unacceptable that he has raped. Hypocrisy is to think and suggest that something else would be acceptable.

The exchange appears to show Rafiq, then 19, and Javid making offensive remarks about an unidentified Asian cricketer in 2011 who they accused of not paying a dinner bill because 'he is a Jew'

In a statement on Twitter, Rafiq apologised for his past remarks, saying he has deleted the exchange and that he is a 'different person today'

Left: This exchange shows Rafiq (then 19) and Javid making offensive remarks in relation to an Asian cricketer they claimed was not paying his dinner bill due to him being a Jew. Right: Rafiq issued a Twitter apology for making offensive remarks about an Asian cricketer in 2011. He claimed that the dinner bill was not paid because ‘he’s a Jew’.

The spin bowler also claimed Alex Hales named his black Dobermann 'Kevin' after his friend Ballance used it to refer to black people. And he hit out at current England Test captain Joe Root, claiming the batsman was on the nights out when he was called a 'P***'.

He also said that Alex Hales called his Dobermann black ‘Kevin’ because his friend Ballance used the name to describe black people. And he hit out at current England Test captain Joe Root, claiming the batsman was on the nights out when he was called a ‘P***’.

MailOnline can reveal that Rafiq and Javid made the offensive remarks about cricketer Atif Sheikh

MailOnline can confirm that Javid, Rafiq, and Javid have made offensive remarks regarding cricketer Atif Shiikh

Rafiq of Yorkshire bowls during the NatWest T20 Blast Semi Final against Durham at Edgbaston in 2016

Rafiq from Yorkshire plays bowls in the NatWest T20 Blast Semi Final against Durham, Edgbaston 2016

Azeem Rafiq has been dragged into a cricket row with explosive results. What has he said?

Rafiq stated that he began medication because of his declining mental health. He left Yorkshire in 2014 for the first-time. Rafiq initially settled back in Yorkshire under Alex Lees, and Jason Gillespie.

Rafiq stated that Jason left the house in 2016, and the room felt like the temperatures had been raised. Andrew Gale came in as the coach and Gary Ballance became captain. It was the first time that I saw it for myself. I felt lonely, embarrassed at times. Constant use of the word ‘P***’.’

Rafiq claimed that Ballance had race abused him during a 2017 preseason tour. “We were there and Gary Ballance walks in and says, ‘Why aren’t you talking to me? You know he’s a P***’. It happened right in front of his team-mates. The coaching staff was also present.

He added: ‘He would constantly talk down to me and make racist jokes, designed to undermine me and make me feel small, like coming up and interrupting when I was talking to girls in a club, saying ‘don’t talk to him, he’s a P***’. After his racist taunting, I can recall crying in the street outside of a club.

“On the bus trip, he looked out for corner stores and made comments such as “Does your father own these?” Gary made comments similar to these on YCCC often. [Yorkshire County Cricket Club] bus trips, in the dressing room, or at events — and in front of YCCC coaches, staff and management, including our coach, Andrew Gale, [the coach]Richard Pyrah is the director of Cricket Martyn Moxon and Dickie Bird is his club president. However, nothing could be done or said to stop it. They laughed along.

Ballance said that he used a racial slur towards Rafiq. In an extended statement last month, Ballance apologised and described it as part their friendship. Rafiq stated to the committee that this was not a true representation of their relationship. He said it had gone downhill since 2013 and became toxic by 2017.

Rafiq also alleged former England batter Alex Hales was involved, saying: ‘Gary and Alex Hales got really close to each other when they played for England together. Although I was not present at that dressing room I do know that Alex named his black dog Kevin. It is disgusting what a ridiculous joke that was.

Rafiq was asked about Vaughan and said that Michael might not recall it. However, Adil, Rana, and myself all remember it.

“He clearly knew a small part of what I said. He used the Daily Telegraph platform to inform everyone that he didn’t say these words. It was totally wrong for me to go ahead and quote a portion of my statement and then talk about other issues. Because it means nothing to him, he may not remember.

Rafiq makes claims regarding the behavior of the ex-England player. He said that among the’six to seven’ who made bullying complaints against him in 2017, he is one. Rafiq claimed that he was only of these players who were of color.

He declared: “Tim is Andrew” [Gale’s] brother-in-law. The two of them supported one another all the time. Tim used to tag along with Andrew and make racist remarks. They fought about bullying each other. Tim, like Andrew, made frequent racist comments about me and was unnecessarily harsh to me when compared to British white players. It became so bad that I had to file a formal complaint against Tim in 2017.

Rafiq explained that Hoggy was the one who called me Rafa the Kaffir. Only later did I realize what “Kaffir” meant and how it was used. It was also a racist term. Comments from Hoggy towards myself and the other Asian players — Adil, Ajmal and Rana — were constant.

“He may have believed that it was only dressing room banter. However, we would all come into the office in the morning to hear him say, “You guys are over there,” and make sure everyone sat together. He would also call us things like ‘elephant washers’ and ‘P***’. Rafiq claimed Matthew Hoggard apologized to him after he was interviewed about Yorkshire.

“I called Matthew, and he said that he didn’t realize, but I was really sorry.” It doesn’t matter if some of my comments caused you to feel how you described it. I’m sorry. It’s true, you’ll be able to tell me that I’m grateful for the kind words of others.

Rafiq stated that he finds it ‘hurtful.’ Root, the England captain, said that he has never seen anything of a racist nature in Yorkshire. Root said that he is a great man. Rafiq claimed that he did not use racist language.

‘I found it hurtful because Rooty was Gary (Ballance)’s housemate and had been involved in a lot of the socialising where I was called a ‘P***’. That Rooty didn’t see it as it was is a sign of how normal it was. Joe is not affected, but it’s something that I think about every day.

Rafiq said: “There was denial. Briefings. Cover-ups. Smearing. High-profile media persons messaging me other members of media supporting me. They said stuff like, “The clubhouse and Asian players do not go there.” And, “getting subs for Asian players is similar to getting blood from a stone”.

I was shocked to discover that this man doesn’t know me personally and has not spent much time talking with me about my drinking, outings, and socializing. David Lloyd was a commentator, coach for England, and that I found disturbing. This was within a week after I had spoken out. It made me think, “God, there are some closet racists, we must do something about them.”

Rafiq said Jack Brooks was a Yorkshire County Championship winner who had called India’s star Cheteshwar Pujara “Steve” during an overseas trip to the club.

Yesterday, Rafiq apologized for past comments and stated that he had deleted them. He also said that he was a “different person today”.

He said: ‘I was sent an image of this exchange from early 2011 today. The account is mine. There are no excuses. This exchange has made me ashamed and I have deleted it to avoid further offense. 

‘I was just 19 when I did it. I wish and believe that I have grown up to be a completely different person. It is a very angry feeling and I regret it. I also sincerely apologize to everyone in the Jewish community who has been wronged by my behavior.

Later, he said: “At any point will I never try to defend the undefensible. To those whom I have wronged, I am deeply sorry. I’ll continue to admit and take responsibility for any other mistakes that I make. 

Reacting to Rafiq’s anti-Semitic slurs, Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl said: ‘Azeem Rafiq has suffered terribly at the hands of racists in cricket so he will well understand the hurt this exchange will cause to Jews who have supported him. 

“His sincere apology seems genuine and there is no reason for us to doubt his sincerity.” 

Claudia Mendoza was co-chief executive for the Jewish Leadership Council. She added that although it is obvious that Azeem Rafiq feels awkward, he took full responsibility, apologized, and has undoubtedly learned much about racism through his personal experiences. 

This revelation follows MPs warning the England and Wales Cricket Board today to address institutional racism in the sport after Rafiq’s arrival.

In shocking testimony, Rafiq broke down in tears as he made racial discrimination claims against Tim Bresnan, Matthew Hoggard, Alex Hales, Gary Ballance and David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd. The spin bowler turned racism whistleblower also claimed the word P*** was ‘used constantly’ during his time at Yorkshire CCC as he gave explosive testimony to MPs.

One shocking fact he shared was that he had red wine forced down his throat when he turned 15 years old. He is a practicing Muslim and was a member of his local soccer team. This happened before 2012, which he said ‘to fit in’. 

Rafiq said that he was told by Yorkshire officials, along with other Asian players, to sit near the toilets and be called an ‘elephant washer’ when he joined. Ballance’s former teammate, he claimed was another target.

He also said that Alex Hales called his Dobermann black ‘Kevin’ because his friend Ballance used the name to describe black people. And he hit out at current England Test captain Joe Root, claiming the batsman was on the nights out when he was called a ‘P***’. 

Rafiq was overcome with emotion as he shared his story about how coaches treated him following a 2017 miscarriage.

His emotional testimony had to be brought to an abrupt halt by DCMS chair Julian Knight and adjourned for five minutes so the cricketer could recompose himself.  

According to the spin bowler, “hundreds and even thousands” of other cricketers may now be able to make racism claims against them. He claimed that it will open up the floodgates for victims of abuse to fight back. 

Rafiq gave a heartbreaking 90 minute testimony before a Commons Committee. He recalled the ‘inhumane’ treatment he received at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and accused other senior players of racism bullying.

The 30-year-old said the word ‘P***’ was ‘used constantly’ in his time on the Yorkshire first team – and that racism continues to be rife in county teams across the country.

The hearing was stopped at one point when Rafiq, who had just lost his unborn baby, broke down and described his experience. A senior official instead of supporting him, ‘ripped the shreds off’ Rafiq.

After a earlier year report found that he had been the victim of racism harassment and bullying, the cricketer gave evidence to MPs. However, the club stated they wouldn’t discipline any player. Other players dismissed the remarks as “banter”.

Rafiq, in a highly emotional account, stated that he lost his job to racism following a complaint regarding bullying. However, he hoped that speaking out would change things. 

He described how, at the age of 15 and practicing Muslim, he was “pinned down” and red wine was forced down his throat from a senior cricket player.  

Rafiq also criticized other people who are not involved in racism for failing to recognize the harmful culture and do nothing to eradicate it.

Rafiq described Joe Root, England’s test captain and as “a good man” – who was there when racist slurs occurred.

The problems started in Yorkshire CCC’s hierarchy, when he was called a troublemaker after complaining about teammate bullying. He was treated by Martyn Moxion, cricket director of Yorkshire Cricket Council. This led to the death of his unborn child.

He cried and said, “My first day back since losing Martyn Moxon was literally getting me into a room. It ripped all the pieces off of me.” He spoke to me like this in all my club experience and it was amazing.

The England and Wales Cricket Board is hosting an international meeting at The Oval, where decision makers are ready for testing. 

Rafiq’s claims against Yorkshire set off a major controversy. However, the current racism crisis is now being handled by the governing body.

Together with representatives from the 21 non first class cricket boards and the MCC the chairs of 18 counties of premier cricket will meet. There is also some concern about the slow and hands-off way the scandal is being dealt.

The attendance is likely to bring down Tom Harrison, the chief executive at the ECB, who was also criticised for his inexplicable appearance before members of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s select committee following Rafiq.

Harrison is hoping to restore his confidence as the ECB’s interim chair. This comes after Ian Watmore’s departure.

Westminster is still considering cricket governance. Nigel Huddleston the sports minister raised the possibility that an independent regulator could be established if the current ECB regime fails to tackle racism.

Rafiq spoke out to DCMS select committee, who interviewed Harrison. He said that cricket is fast approaching and we may well follow the same path.

“We have had open and honest conversations over the past few weeks with the ECB, as well as other cricket stakeholders. They have assured me that they are serious about the matter and will take action.

Tom Harrison promises me that he will act with all of his might here. He is aware that he must act fast. They will be judged on the basis of their actions and not their words. If they do not act in a timely manner, we will intervene.

Rafiq mentioned Lloyd in his testimony to the MPs. This was an example of the “denials, briefings and cover-ups”, he claimed, that took place following his public racism complaint against Yorkshire.

He explained that high-profile media personalities had been messaging others in the media supporting me, saying things such as, The club houses and Asian members don’t get into them’, ‘Getting Asian subs is like getting blood from stone’.

“And then personally that guy is talking to me about my personal drinking and going out with friends. David Lloyd was the one who said that.

Rafiq told DCMS that he also joined the dressing room with his heroes Matthew Hoggard and Michael Vaughan during 2005 Ashes. That was the best moment in my life.

“Pretty early, me and other people of Asian descent…there were comments such a “you’ll seat over there next to the toilets”, or “elephant washers”.

‘The word P*** was used constantly. The leaders seemed to have an understanding of the institution and never stamped it out.

Rafiq stated that he wanted to be a cricketer and represent England. He also said that he wants to fulfill his family’s dreams.

He said, “In my first spell I don’t think I really realized what it was.” It seems that I was in denial.

His deteriorating mental state led him to take medication and he left Yorkshire for the very first time in 2014.

He felt at first settled when he came back under coach Jason Gillespie and captain Alex Lees.

Rafiq stated that Jason left the house in 2016, and the room felt like the temperatures had been raised. Andrew Gale came in as the coach and Gary Ballance was as the captain.

‘For first time, I saw it as what it was. I felt alone and sometimes humiliated. Constant use of the word ‘P***’.’ 

Sky cricket pundit David Lloyd has apologised after being named by Azeem Rafiq amid cricket's racism storm

David Lloyd (sky cricket pundit) has since apologized for being named by Azeem Rasiq in cricket’s racist storm.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison is pictured as he gave evidence

Former Yorkshire County Cricket Club chairman Roger Hutton was also grilled by the select committee

Tom Harrison, the chief executive officer of England and Wales Cricket Board, (ECB), was one of those who were called before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Right: Roger Hutton, former chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club was quizzed by MPs about his role in Yorkshire just before he resigned.

Rafiq claimed fellow England international star Alex Hales used the word Kevin for his dog (pictured together in an Instagram post on the athlete's Instagram) after his friend Ballance coined it for black people

Rafiq claims that Alex Hales, England’s international soccer star, used the name Kevin to describe his dog. The pair were pictured in an Instagram photo on Hales’ Instagram. It was a term Ballance invented for black people.

Gary Ballance  (pictured playing for England against South Africa in July 2017) is among the cricket stars accused of being racist between 2008 and 2018 by Rafiq

Gary Ballance  (pictured playing for England against South Africa in July 2017) is among the cricket stars accused of being racist between 2008 and 2018 by Rafiq

Yorkshire Cricket Club scandal timeline

2008-2018: Azeem Rahiq, the youngest ever captain of Yorkshire CCC and their first Asian Origin Captain, spends 10 Years at Yorkshire CCC.

September 2020 Yorkshire launches an investigation into Rafiq’s allegations that racism was a ‘deep-rooted problem’ at his club, which led to him being ‘close’ to suicide. He stated that he used to come home from training every day and weep all the way. Some people claimed that Rafiq was too much like his Asian colleagues.

December 2020Rafiq lodges a lawsuit against the county claiming that he experienced ‘direct discrimination & harassment on the ground of race as well as victimisation & detriment due to his efforts at addressing racism at the club.

June 2021: Rafiq’s lawyer states that Rafiq has been pushed back and delays the reporting. The dispute is not resolved by the parties, but an employment tribunal is established.

August 20, 2121Yorkshire offers ‘profound apologizes’ to Rafiq after he is found guilty of ‘inappropriate behaviour’. However, they refuse to acknowledge Rafiq’s claims of institutional racism. Rafiq also accuses Yorkshire of ‘fudging his claims’ and promises he will not be going away.

September 20, 2121 ECB is’very worried’ about the summary of panel findings. Yorkshire admitted Rafiq suffered ‘racial harassment, bullying’. 

Yorkshire has stated that they will not publish all 43 of the allegations.

October 20,21 Yorkshire says they won’t take any disciplinary action against its employees after the report. Rafiq posted on Twitter, that the club was “embarrassing”, and said it gave a green light to racism.

The last week: Details of the report are published by ESPNcricinfo, including a senior player’s admission that he repeatedly used the word ‘P***’ in reference to Rafiq, which was deemed ‘banter’. Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said that heads should be rolling and the Prime Minister asked the ECB for an investigation. 

The last week: MailOnline has revealed that Rafiq is Rafiq’s former Yorkshire teammate, England batsman Gary Ballance. Sponsors Anchor Butter (Yorkshire Tea), Emerald and Emerald have all forged ties to the club.

Rafiq stated that Ballance had race abused him during a pre-season tour in 2017.

“We were at a certain place, and Gary Ballance walks up to Gary and asks him why he is talking to him.

‘You know he’s a P***’. It happened right in front of the team. The coaching staff was also present. 

Ballance, an ex-england batter, admitted to using a “racial slur” towards Rafiq during a long statement this month. He apologised but said it was part of their friendship.

Rafiq stated to the committee that this was an inaccurate portrayal of their relationship. He said it had gone downhill since 2013 and became toxic in 2017.

Asking Mr Knight to comment on the term “Kevin”, he stated that it was offensively racist and had reached the top of the game.

Gary said that Kevin was “a thing Gary used to call anyone of colour very derogatory.” He stated that the England dressing room knew about it.

“Anyone who has ever met Gary will know that he used this phrase to describe people of color.

Rafiq also alleged former England batter Alex Hales was involved, saying: ‘Gary and Alex Hales got really close to each other when they played for England together.

Although I was absent from that dressing area, what I know is that Alex went on and named his black dog Kevin. It is disgusting what a joke that was.

Rafiq is Muslim and also describes his first alcohol-related experience at age 15. He said, “I was pinned down at my local Cricket Club and red wine was poured down my throat. Literally down my throat.”

“The player was a Yorkshire-Hampshire footballer. I didn’t drink alcohol before 2012, and I was compelled to start drinking again.

“I was not perfect. There were things that I did to realize my goals. This is not a racist thing that I am deeply sorry for.

“When I spoke I ought to have been listened too. Listening to the victim is a major problem in this game. It is not possible to say “yes, but” about racism. There are no two sides’ of racism.

Rafiq stated that the problem in Yorkshire could be replicated “up and down the nation.”

Rafiq was asked about how others such as Maurice Chambers (ex-Northamptonshire and Essex player) had spoken out. He said that he saw it as progress because people feel like they have the ability to come forward. They will be heard, not discredited, smeared, and briefed.

He described England Cricket Board’s diversity initiatives as ‘box-ticking exercises’ and ‘tokenism. He stated that David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd, an ex-england coach, had spoken about Rafiq’s drinking.

“He had been an England coach, commentator, and it was disturbing to me, because Sky is supposed to be doing amazing work in bringing racism front. Within a week, I received that and thought, “God, there’s some closet racists, and I must do something about it.”

Rafiq said: “I believe with four to five months remaining on my contract I was encouraged by my employer to sign confidentiality forms and accept a small amount of money. I declined.

“At the time, it would have cost me a lot. My wife seemed to be struggling. It was obvious that I was suffering. 

Rafiq hit out at England Test captain Joe Root (pictured), claiming he was on those nights out where he was called a 'P***'. But he said Root was a good man

He claimed fellow international star Alex Hales named his black dog Kevin after Ballance often used it as a term for black people

Rafiq hit out at England Test captain Joe Root (left), claiming he was on those nights out where he was called a ‘P***’. He later stated Root was a decent man. He said that Hales, an international star and actor who is also named Kevin for him after Ballance. Ballance uses the term to refer to black people.

Rafiq also made claims over Tim Bresnan's (pictured) behaviour at the club, saying he was among 'six or seven' players to have made a bullying complaint against the star in 2017

Rafiq said Matthew Hoggard (pictured) had apologised to him after watching him being interviewed about his experience at Yorkshire

Rafiq made other claims about Tim Bresnan (left), claiming that he was one of’six’ or seven players who made bullying complaints against him in 2017. Rafiq stated that Matthew Hoggard, right, had offered to apologise after watching his interview on Yorkshire.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan (pictured in 2018) has categorically denied the claims made by Rafiq against him and issued a statement in which he described the accusations as 'extremely upsetting'

Michael Vaughan (1982, England) was a former captain. He has since categorically refuted the allegations made against Rafiq. In a statement, he said that the accusations were ‘extremely distressing’.

“It wasn’t possible for me mentally to put myself through this kind of trauma. It was true that I had to leave the country. I was sent to Pakistan. It was a great experience.

Rafiq was asked how he managed to find the courage to speak up. He replied: “I did an interview on my new venture. I got asked a question. Then I became emotional. Everything was said.

“Even though I was at that moment, I believed that some of these people might still have some humanity. It was not true. But they thought that he hadn’t spoken about Yorkshire.

It was about “discrediting, discrediting, discrediting”. How I did it, I don’t know. The last fourteen months have been very difficult. Rafiq’s emotional state caused the committee to break.

Rafiq stated that it had been ‘hurtful” for him to see Root’s England captain expressing his dismay. Root claimed that he has never seen any racist behavior at Yorkshire.

“Rooty’s a great man. Rafiq claimed that he did not use racist language.

‘I found it hurtful because Rooty was Gary (Ballance)’s housemate and had been involved in a lot of the socialising where I was called a ‘P***’.

It shows just how common it is that even good men like Joe don’t see things the way they are. Joe won’t be affected by it, but I do remember that every day.