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England captain Root: It’s ‘difficult to see’ pain Azeem Rafiq is going through

Joe Root has offered his sincere sympathies to ex-Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq, who was subjected to racist treatment at the county and remains in a row with the team over the subsequent report

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Joe Root has voiced his support of former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq, who is currently embroiled in a racism row with the county after they failed to publish the contents of an investigation into discrimination against him and wider claims of institutional racism.

Rafiq played for Yorkshire between 2008 and 2018, and revealed last year that he had been the victim of racist discrimination and abuse on multiple occasions during his time there.

Rafiq revealed in 2020 that he had been on the brink of taking his own life as a result of the oppressive treatment.

He has accused Yorkshire of trying to downplay the incidents as they failed to publish the review.



Joe Root has come out in support of former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq, who was the victim of racism during his time at the club
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Image:

Richard Sellers/Getty Images)




That accusation has since caused the ECB to formally write to the county in order to ask for a copy of their findings.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Root said that it was hard to see someone he knows well going through such trauma, and that the saga needed to be used as a springboard to increase inclusivity and diversity in British cricket.

The England captain said: “From a personal point of view, Azeem is an ex-team-mate and a friend. It is difficult to see him hurting as he is.









“I hope that this can move quickly and can be dealt with swiftly moving forward, from a club point of view and for everyone involved.

“If anything, it just shows that we need to keep finding ways of making our game as diverse as we can, keep improving it, and make sure this is the last time that we have this conversation.”

In response to the ECB’s demands for the report, Yorkshire acknowledged that many of the allegations about racism at the club had been upheld, and committed to disclosing the full report “in the coming weeks”.



Joe Root has been friends with Azeem Rafiq following their time together at Yorkshire
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Image:

GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)




Yorkshire have apologised for their failure to address the problems, although Rafiq remains unconvinced. The apology read: “The investigation has been in depth and far from easy.

“Sadly, historically, Azeem was the victim of inappropriate behaviour.

“This is clearly unacceptable. We would like to express our profound apologies for this.”

Root insisted that his England team were “desperate” to make sure cricket is used as a vehicle for good with regards to making the game open and enjoyable for everyone.









He added: “We have to keep trying to create opportunities, keep educating, and doing everyone we can to make this game for everyone.

“As a team, we are certainly desperate to do that. We want to move the game forward and everyone to feel like it is a game for them.

“We will continue, as a team, to keep trying to find a way to do that, but everyone involved in the game has to do that as well.”



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