Gary Ballance admits using 'racial slur' against Azeem Rafiq

3 November 2021, 20:14 | Updated: 4 November 2021, 07:16

Former England batter Gary Ballance has admitted using "a racial slur" against former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq
Former England batter Gary Ballance has admitted using "a racial slur" against former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Former England batter Gary Ballance has admitted using "a racial slur" against former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq.

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Ballance, released a statement today where he accepted he was responsible for using offensive and derogatory terms during his time at Headingley.

The 31-year-old claimed both men "said things privately to each other which were not acceptable" but added "at no time did I believe or understand that it had caused Rafa distress".

Ballance's name was redacted in a summary of the independent report into Rafiq's wide-ranging claims of institutional racism, but it has been reported by ESPNCricinfo that the panel upheld claims he had been repeatedly called a "P***" in what players believed was "the spirit of friendly banter".

This evening, Ballance wrote: "It has been reported that I used a racial slur and, as I told the independent enquiry, I accept that I did so and I regret doing so. To be clear - I deeply regret some of the language I used in my younger years.

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"I do not wish to discredit Rafa by repeating the words and statements that he made about me and others but I have to be clear that this was a situation where best friends said offensive things to each other which, outside of that context, would be considered wholly inappropriate.

"I regret that these exchanges took place but at no time did I believe or understand that it had caused Rafa distress. If I had believed that then I would have stopped immediately. He was my best mate in cricket and I cared deeply for him. To my knowledge, it has never been alleged that I reduced Rafa to tears."

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Today sponsors of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, including Emerald Group and Tetley's, have cut ties with over their handling of racial harassment and bullying.

Ballance's statement added: "My family and I are deeply saddened and upset by the allegations recently levelled at me in the press and by the misleading and selective nature of the reporting in the last few days.

"Throughout this process I have cooperated with the independent investigation and I have been completely honest and transparent with the club and the investigators at all times. Information and allegations have been leaked and reported in the press which in my view give a misleading impression of the evidence which was heard in the investigation.

"That does not mean that what passed between us was right or appropriate. It was not. Rafa said things to me that were not acceptable and I did the same with Rafa. I never said anything with any intended malice or to upset Rafa.

"Rafa and I remained closest friends throughout the time we exchanged these inappropriate comments. I am aware of how hurtful the racial slur is and I regret that I used this word in immature exchanges in my younger years and I am sure Rafa feels the same about some of the things he said to me as well."