Azeem Rafiq has said he fears being the central witness in a public racism hearing convened by English cricket authorities will make life “worse” for him and his family, even though he has been a prime mover in ensuring proceedings are not held in private. The ex-Yorkshire spinner is due to move overseas in the near future with his wife, children and parents in order to protect his family from further abuse. Pakistan-born Rafiq, 31, first raised allegations of racism and bullying in September 2020, related to his two spells at Yorkshire, which eventually led to a mass clear-out of senior boardroom figures and coaching staff.
Cricket Disciplinary Commission (CDC) hearings are usually held behind closed doors because they are not courts of law or a parliamentary body where witnesses are protected by privilege that would prevent them from being sued.
The 31-year-old Rafiq, however, has been adamant he wants the hearing to take place in public ever since the England and Wales Cricket Board charged a number of individuals over allegations of racism he raised, and charged Yorkshire over their handling of those allegations, in June.
The hearing, due to start on November 28, could yet be held in private if any of the parties involved successfully appeal, although Rafiq has indicated he could withdraw if that happened.
“My view is I’ve gone through all these processes and been vindicated, yet I and my family continue to be put through some very awful situations,” Rafiq told Britain’s PA news agency on Wednesday. “So I’ll go in another room and I will be vindicated again, I’ve got absolutely no doubt whatsoever. But will that change my life? I actually think it’ll make things worse.
“But we need to have these conversations for transparency and for closure. Let the world see it, what’s there to hide? I’ve got nothing to hide.”
He added: “Is it going to be easy for me? Of course it’s not. I’m going to be cross-examined by seven or eight different legal teams. But I just don’t see an end unless that happens.”
Rafiq, however, is convinced there would have been even less progress in his case had he not given evidence to a committee of lawmakers in the House of Commons last year. “If it wasn’t for the select committee, I’d still be fighting,” he added as he thanked the ECB for providing him with “24-7 security” following recent threats.
A book looking at Rafiq’s life titled ‘It’s Not Banter, It’s Racism’, written with English cricket journalist George Dobell, is set to be published on May 4 next year. The book will examine the discrimination he has encountered during his cricket career, as well as his own misconduct, including the anti-Semitic tweets he was sanctioned for by the CDC earlier this year.
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