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Cricketer Azeem Rafiq felt ‘sick to the stomach’ over antisemitic comments in 2011

Written by on 19/11/2021

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq said he felt “sick to the stomach” when he saw antisemitic comments he made a decade ago.

In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, the 30-year-old player said he was deeply sorry for the offensive remarks and that he “deserved the flak”.

The disparaging messages on social media about another Asian cricketer in 2011 came to light after Rafiq gave tearful testimony to MPs about the racism he had faced when playing for Yorkshire, which has sent shockwaves through the sport and led cricket bosses to hold a crisis summit.

WARNING: This article contains images of racist language

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Image: Azeem Rafiq’s offensive messages from 2011

While he felt the situation was not the same as the racial abuse he personally suffered, Rafiq said he did not seek to diminish his own actions.

The former England international told the newspaper: “I don’t remember making those comments. When I was sent them, I felt sick to my stomach.”

He added: “The circumstances do differ. I don’t think I’ve ever played with anyone Jewish, so it was not exactly the same. But I don’t want to play it down. I’ve hurt people. My genuine feeling is that I deserve the flak. I f***ed up.”

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“I’m deeply sorry. I don’t recall making any other antisemitic remarks, but I’ll go back and think about it.

“When something doesn’t affect you, you don’t remember it. You don’t recall it.

“I’m just distraught. The one positive thing is that it shows how big the problem is, and it’s going to keep the issue forefront in people’s minds.”

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Key moments from Azeem Rafiq racism hearing

Rafiq went on: “When it comes to the people who were racist towards me, all I’ve ever asked for is an apology and for them to accept what they’ve done.

“Then I’d give them a second chance. My comments hurt people. It’s for the Jewish community to decide whether you guys accept my apology.”

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Pressed over whether he saw himself as part of the problem or part of the solution, he said: “It doesn’t matter what happens to me.

“What does matter is that people keep talking about racism in cricket and make the game welcoming to everyone, regardless of who you are.”

 Sky News

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