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Rafiq says ‘institutional racism’ is key issue after Ballance admits using slur

Azeem Rafiq responded on Thursday to the latest news in the Yorkshire cricket racism story after a former teammate of the cricketer, Gary Ballance, admitted using a racial slur against him.

Rafiq posted a short statement on Twitter, saying the problem is “not really about the words of certain individuals” but rather “institutional racism”.

The 30-year-old, who played for Yorkshire County Cricket Club in two spells between 2008 and 2018, previously accused the club of “institutional racism” more than a year ago.

In the statement, Rafiq said: “I’m not intending to say very much until the select committee hearing later this month. However, I wanted to stress this is not really about the words of certain individuals.

“This is about institutional racism and abject failures to act by numerous leaders at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and in the wider game. The sport I love and club desperately [needs] reform and change.”

In his own statement on Wednesday night, Ballance said he had “no choice but to provide a public response” given leaks and reports to the press which he said “give a misleading impression of the evidence which was heard in the investigation”.

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Ballance went on: “To be clear – I deeply regret some of the language I used in my younger years. The independent enquiry, having heard all of the evidence, accepted that the context of some of the language used was in a ‘friendly verbal attack’ between friends which was not intended to offend or hurt and that no malice was intended. Given my incredibly close relationship with Rafa over the years I am saddened that it has come to this.”

Ballance’s move followed another day of anger towards Yorkshire over their failure to take action against Rafiq’s alleged abusers that led to leading sponsors – including Emerald, who gave their name to Yorkshire’s Headingley ground – ending their association with the club, and a group of MPs demanding an independent inquiry.

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