Azeem Rafiq blasted as ‘difficult to deal with’ by chairman of an ECB premier league, who claims he found former England Under 19 captain was ‘discourteous and disrespectful’
- Yorkshire have opened and investigation into claims of racism from Azeem Rafiq
- But Yorkshire South League chair Roger Pugh has criticised Rafiq
- As a Muslim the 29-year-old felt that he was made to feel like an ‘outsider’
Azeem Rafiq has been branded ‘difficult to deal with’ by the chairman of an ECB premier league in which he played.
The 29-year-old, whose claims of ‘institutional racism’ at Yorkshire have led to the launch of an independent inquiry into the culture at Headingley over recent years, came under fire from Yorkshire South League chair Roger Pugh in a blog on the league’s official website.
Pugh said that Rafiq, who has represented both Sheffield and Phoenix United and Sheffield Collegiate in the league in recent years, was the only individual he has had an issue with during his tenure.
Cricketer Azeem Rafiq has made claims of ‘institutional racism’ against Yorkshire
‘Of course, I am not in a position to comment on these allegations, but that they should come from him does not surprise me,’ Pugh, a retired civil servant, wrote.
‘I have had contact with Azeem both as an umpire and an administrator, and found him very difficult to deal with – being both discourteous and disrespectful.
‘Indeed, over the five years in which we have been in existence, he is the only person in our league that I have had any issues with.
‘I am not a religious man, but a biblical quote seems to me apt here. It is, “as ye sow, so shall ye reap.”’
Law firm Squire Patton Boggs have been charged with leading the probe following a raft of accusations by Rafiq in a series of interviews.
But Rafiq has been blasted by Yorkshire South League chair Roger Pugh
‘As (Yorkshire) have previously indicated, it takes the matters aired by Azeem Rafiq very seriously. Squire has extensive expertise and has begun the work to ensure a thorough investigation and review is conducted,’ read a statement from the club.
On Friday, Rafiq revealed he filed a complaint with the Yorkshire management three years ago amid making fresh claims of both racist and insensitive behaviour towards him from those within the club.
Rafiq, 29, said in an interview with BBC Sport that team-mates would stereotype him, saying ‘he stinks’ and use a racially-offensive term relating to his Pakistani heritage.
The former England Under 19 captain also indicated that he had reported an individual to director of cricket Martyn Moxon and coach Andrew Gale in 2017, and claimed he departed a meeting with Moxon in tears the following summer – on his first day back at work, after his son was still-born in May 2018.
‘On my first day back after losing my child, I was called into the office by the director of cricket and he gave me a dressing down,’ said Rafiq.
Rafiq claims he left a meeting with director of cricket Martyn Moxon (above) in tears following a ‘dressing down’ on his first day back at work after his son was still-born
‘I could not believe it. He said my attitude was wrong, that the club had done all this work for me and I told him he knew my personal situation.
‘I left that meeting in tears and that was so wrong of him. I knew from when I reported the situation the year before what was going to happen and it got proven.
‘In 2017, I raised issues about a certain individual to the coach and director of cricket about how he was making me feel.
‘I went through a version of events with the chief executive and director of cricket – but while I was pouring my heart out, the director of cricket was too busy looking at the clock. He wasn’t really interested.’
Moxon is understood to be keen to keep his own counsel, preferring to allow the inquiry to fulfil its task.
Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton did respond, however, saying: ‘Everyone at the club had a huge amount of sympathy for Azeem and his family at the time of the tragic loss of his son, and he was encouraged by the club to take more time off from playing than he elected to at the time.
Since his 2018 release from Yorkshire, Rafiq has not been involved in pro cricket in England
‘Those around him at the time knew how hard the tragedy had hit him but, despite advice from people at the club, he chose to return to the squad very soon afterwards.
‘We will review all the events detailed in the latest allegations, and we want to assure Azeem that we take the all the issues raised extremely seriously.
‘We have tried to contact him to hear these grievances directly from him. We will make further efforts to include first-hand testimony from Azeem in the investigation.’
Rafiq – who was released by Yorkshire for a second time in September 2018 and has not been involved in professional cricket in England since – claimed racial slurs directed towards him by team-mates.
‘They would stereotype me and say “he stinks”. On a pre-season trip to Dubai, one of the players said ‘don’t speak to him, he isn’t a sheikh, he hasn’t got any oil’. I have left a lot of nights out in tears.
‘As a Muslim lad I have tried to fit in and I’ve done things which I shouldn’t have, which I regret, but all I wanted to do was play cricket for England. I did things that were against my religion and I am ashamed of that.’