"I Was Close To Suicide" : Pak Cricketer On Racism In Yorkshire
Former England under-19 captain Azeem Rafiq has said that "institutional racism" at the Yorkshire County Cricket Club had pushed him close to committing suicide. He said that despite the ethnic diversity in cities like Yorkshire, not many non-white individuals make it to the first team or find themselves in the coaching staff.
"I know how close I was to committing suicide during my time at Yorkshire," he told ESPNcricinfo. "I was living my family's dream as a professional cricketer, but inside I was dying. I was dreading going to work. I was in pain every day.
"There were times I did things to try and fit in that, as a Muslim, I now look back on and regret. I'm not proud of it at all. But as soon as I stopped trying to fit in, I was an outsider. There were no coaches on the staff from a similar background who understood what it was like."
Rafiq, who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, said that looking at squad photographs over the years is enough to understand there was a problem. "Look at the facts and figures. Look at a squad photograph. Look at the coaches. How many non-white faces do you see? Despite the ethnic diversity of the cities in Yorkshire, despite the love for the game from Asian communities, how many people from those backgrounds are making it into the first team?
"It's obvious to anyone who cares that there's a problem. Do I think there is institutional racism? It's at its peak in my opinion. It's worse than it's ever been. My only motivation now is to prevent anyone else feeling the same pain," he said.