Azeem Rafiq’s anti-Semitism does not undermine his claim that cricket is racist – it just proves he is part of the problem –

Posted By on November 23, 2021

It is popular, in these febrile times, to hound somebody out of professional existence for historical misdeeds. But we need to recognise that digging for dirt in peoples past lives, a phenomenon known today as offence archaeology, is a self-defeating exercise. Rafiqs own unforgivable remarks do not temper the pain of team-mates referring to him as a P---, or negate the vital service he has performed in bringing institutional racism at Yorkshire to light.

Similarly, the intolerance of which he was guilty at 19 should not define the person he is at 30. This same benefit of the doubt was granted to Robinson, and it needs extending to Rafiq, too. Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, has accepted his apology, her response conveying a valuable lesson. 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, she said. We have no reason to believe he is not completely sincere.

Rafiq has evidently done much to improve his character these last 11 years. One of his most telling contributions at DCMS was to reinforce the significance of education if cricket is ever to put its house in order. For it is the lack of even the most basic education on race that unites so much of the hideous behaviour by young players.

It is central to Rafiqs story of how, as a 15-year-old Muslim, he had red wine poured down his throat in a team car. It is the reason why Alex Hales already forced to deny that he called his black dog Kevin, copying a racist label allegedly used by Gary Ballance was pictured in blackface at a party in 2009. It is why Jack Brooks, the Somerset bowler, kept referring to Cheteshwar Pujara as Steve, despite his Indian team-mates insistence that he did not like the name. And it is why Rafiq, the key whistleblower, imagined as a teenager that anti-Semitism was somehow permissible. The efforts to discredit him on this basis are obscuring the key point here: that crickets moment of enlightenment cannot come a moment too soon.

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Azeem Rafiq's anti-Semitism does not undermine his claim that cricket is racist - it just proves he is part of the problem -

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