'I am ashamed': Cricketer Azeem Rafiq apologises over 2011 antisemitic messages

18 November 2021, 16:40 | Updated: 18 November 2021, 20:31

Azeem Rafiq has made accusations of racism and now apologised over antisemitic messages
Azeem Rafiq has made accusations of racism and now apologised over antisemitic messages. Picture: ParliamentTV/Twitter

By Will Taylor

Azeem Rafiq, the cricketer whose accusations of racism have rocked the sport, has apologised over antisemitic messages.

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His revelations have sent shockwaves through English cricket.

But in a social media post, the former Yorkshire bowler has now said sorry for antisemitic messages he sent in 2011.

He said: "I was sent an image of this exchange from early 2011 today. I have gone back to check my account and it is me – I have absolutely no excuses.

"I am ashamed of this exchange and have now deleted it so as not to cause further offence. I was 19 at the time and I hope and believe I am a different person today.

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Watch in full: Nick Ferrari and Azeem Rafiq

"I am incredibly angry at myself and I apologise to the Jewish community and everyone who is rightly offended by this."

It comes after The Times uncovered messages sent to Ateeq Javid, the former Warwickshire and Leicestershire player, in which Rafiq is seen making disparaging comments about an unnamed Jewish person.

Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie Van Der Zyl said: "Azeem Rafiq has suffered terribly at the hands of racists in cricket so he will well understand the hurt this exchange will cause to Jews who have supported him.

"His apology certainly seems heartfelt and we have no reason to believe he is not completely sincere."

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Rafiq, 30, has shared experiences of racial harassment and discrimination during his time at Yorkshire, during a first stint between 2008 and 2014 and a second time between 2016 and 2018.

An ESPNCricinfo report said that an investigation by Yorkshire found the repeated use of the slur "P***", used by a teammate at Rafiq, was "friendly banter".

The club has been heavily criticised for its handling of the affair. Rafiq has settled an employment tribunal with Yorkshire but vowed to support other victims of abuse.

Nick Ferrari asks Azeem Rafiq: 'Is a racist born or is he made?'

Fighting back tears as he gave evidence to MPs on the Commons culture and sport committee, Rafiq made fresh allegations against a raft of high-profile cricketers, including ex-England players Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan and Alex Hales.

As recently as Wednesday, Rafiq told LBC's Nick Ferrari that five other players had contacted him within the previous day over racism issues at five other counties than Essex.

And also discussed his thoughts on what should happen to people willing to say sorry over racism.

"Anyone that apologises deserves a second chance," he told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

"If (Gary Ballance) apologises properly and accepts it, there’s got to be some level of accountability but I think he should be allowed to carry on with his career."