Azeem Rafiq, whose racism allegations have sparked a flurry of criticism about sporting culture in Yorkshire, is leaving England to protect his family from abuse and intimidation.
In 2020, the 31-year-old spoke out about an “institutional racist culture” in Yorkshire, including from former England players.
The cricketer, whose family moved to the UK from Pakistan after one of his father’s business partners was murdered following a botched kidnapping attempt, is being abused and threatened, Cricketer.com has reported. “Rafiq has recently received a number of threats, both online and in person, and in one case caught by CCTV earlier this month, a person was seen defecating in the garden of the house where his parents live. In another, a masked intruder was seen roaming outside the property,” the report said.
Rafiq’s father suffers from an illness and constantly needs an oxygen tank. Rafiq and four others were recently reprimanded by the England Cricket Discipline Commission for using “anti-Semitic language” on social media in 2011. Rafiq accepted the rebuke, apologized to the Jewish community and said he was embarrassed.
Rafiq was the whistleblower in the Yorkshire racism scandal, which he first spoke about in September 2020. He then testified before a group of MPs, saying he was “close to taking his own life” for the “toxic” atmosphere in the dressing room when Gary Ballance was made skipper during his second tenure at the club.