Azeem hasn’t done anything for personal gain, he wants a change- Moeen Ali on Yorkshire racism crisis

Moeen Ali praises Azeem Rafiq for encouraging others to share experiences | Getty Images

England all-rounder Moeen Ali on Wednesday (November 9) said that he wasn’t surprised by the allegations of racism made by Azeem Rafiq against Yorkshire.

He hoped the short-term pain of the ongoing racism crisis in the Yorkshire cricket club could lead to change in the game and have long-term benefits for the whole of English cricket.

The veteran cricketer also revealed that he had “never felt discriminated against” at Yorkshire like Rafiq, while the cricketer’s bravery to share experiences that will encourage others to come forward too.

Notably, the 30-year-old Rafiq was subjected to racist abuse and was made to feel like an outsider in Yorkshire, and even contemplated suicide.

After Rafiq’s allegations, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) suspended Yorkshire from hosting international or major matches.

Moeen told a news conference: “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised but there are probably more stories out there that people haven’t heard of. The fact it’s come out is great because, going forward, people (will) have to think about what they can or can’t say in terms of discriminating against people and knowing what people feel and go through.”

The all-rounder further added, “Azeem’s talked a lot about his mental health and I think that’s really, really important. I think the most important thing is that people who do suffer with mental health are really being looked after in this situation. What Azeem has done, he is not doing it for any personal gain, I think he wants to change and that’s what he’s pushing for.”

Moeen further said of the use of the word “P**i” – the slur that Gary Ballance had used to address Rafiq: “It’s not bantered at the end of the day. We’ve got to be really careful with the language that we use. The environment is really important because when the environment is right, that sort of language doesn’t come out.”

He signed off by saying, “It’s been talked about quite a lot actually. It’s about having an open discussion, and to be learning as well as a team, about what we can do to change those mindsets, and how comfortable we want people to be when they come into this environment, no matter where they’re from, what they do, or any background that they have.”

Noteworthy, Rafiq and senior Yorkshire executives have been called to give evidence before a parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) panel on November 16.