Cricketer Azeem Rafiq apologises for decade-old anti-Semitic messages

Racism whistle-blower says he is 'ashamed' after exchange with fellow cricketer comes to light

Racism whistle-blower Azeem Rafiq has issued an apology after it was revealed he had sent anti-Semitic messages to a fellow player more than a decade ago.

Former Yorkshire spin bowler Rafiq has won widespread praise for his resolve in highlighting the issue of racial discrimination in cricket. He appeared before a parliamentary select committee this week to lift the lid on his own bitter experiences.

Rafiq pointed the finger at a number of high-profile people during his Westminster appearance, but on Thursday he was forced to confront his own past shortcomings when The Times uncovered an exchange with former Warwickshire and Leicestershire player Ateeq Javid.

In it, Rafiq makes offensive remarks about an unidentified Jewish person. Having reviewed the messages, Rafiq has confirmed they are authentic, saying that he is furious at his own actions.

“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,” he wrote on Twitter.

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

The development is likely to be a source of deep embarrassment to Rafiq, now 30, who this month settled an employment tribunal with Yorkshire and vowed to stand alongside other victims of abuse and use his platform to become the “voice of the voiceless".

Speaking to BBC Sport after his appearance in front of the parliamentary DCMS committee, he told victims of discrimination: “Whether anyone else stands by you or not, I'll stand by you. Hopefully people will be believed and heard a lot more and people can take confidence from that.”

He also predicted that his case would lead to the “floodgates” opening and that the number of cricketers coming forward to tell their stories could run into the thousands.

Watch: Azeem Rafiq describes the racism he endured at Yorkshire

Updated: November 18th 2021, 6:51 PM