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Root: Yorkshire racism is ‘intolerable’ – ‘it’s fractured our game’


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ngland captain Joe Root has condemned the revelations of racism at his county Yorkshire as “simply intolerable” and called for cricket to “reset” to “make sure this never happens again”.

Root has, until now, remained quiet on the allegations raised by Azeem Rafiq, a peer and friend who captained him in the England U19 team.

Rafiq has received a six-figure settlement from Yorkshire, a club on its knees with sponsors fleeing and a suspension on hosting international cricket at Headingley in place.

Some of Rafiq’s allegations relate to Gary Ballance, a former housemate of Root, and Michael Vaughan, a mentor.

But Root says he felt “compelled to address the current situation”, denouncing the racism seen at the club, saying it has “fractured our game and torn lives apart”.

“I just want the sport to be a place where everyone is enjoying it for the beautiful game it is and feels equal and safe,” he said in a statement. “It hurts knowing this has happened at YCCC so close to home. It’s my club that I care passionately about it. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting. There is no debate about racism, no one side or other. It is simply intolerable.

“These events have fractured our game and torn lives apart. We must now recover and come back together as fans, players, media, and those who work within cricket. We have an opportunity to make the sport I love better for everyone.”

Root called for change at Yorkshire, and offered his services to the club’s new Chairman, Lord Patel of Bradford.

“I want to see change and actions that will see YCCC rise from this with a culture that harnesses a diverse environment with trust across all communities that support cricket in the county,” he said.

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“We need to educate, unify and reset. I will reach out to YCCC new Chair, Lord Patel, to offer support however I’m able.

“We have to find a way to move forward and make sure this never happens again. In my opinion, this is a societal issue and needs addressing further afield than just cricket.

“That being said, we, as a sport, all have to do more. How can we all help shape things moving forward positively? What can everyone from myself, the ECB, counties, players, officials and others in the sport do to improve the state of the game? I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I think we need to educate more and earlier; we must call it out straight away and have our eyes and ears open more.

“Inclusivity, diversity and anti-discrimination is something over the past few years the England teams I have been involved in have spent a lot of time talking about and are very passionate about improving and making a big difference. It’s a big part of our culture, and we want to celebrate our diversity. We are representing England, and in that, we are representing the multicultural society we live in. We want all the fans to be able to enjoy what we do on the field and feel proud about who’s representing them.”

Root is in Australia with his young family and his England Test team, quarantining and preparing for next month’s Ashes series.

“With the Ashes fast approaching, I’d really like the fans back home to unite and get behind us as a team,” he said. “We will be playing for you all.”


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