‘Ashamed’ Azeem Rafiq apologises after anti-Semitic messages emerge

Racism whistleblower 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.

Screen grab from Parliament TV of former cricketer Azeem Rafiq crying as he gives evidence at the inquiry into racism he suffered at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee on sport governance at Portcullis House in London.

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

He pointed the finger at a number of high-profile individuals 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.

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In it, Rafiq makes offensive remarks about an unidentified person. Having reviewed the messages, Rafiq has confirmed that the messages are authentic.

“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 said 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 but has 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.

Former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq rocked cricket this week with wide-ranging allegations of racism in the sport, delivering a damning testimony to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee.