England cricket captain Joe Root called for “change and actions” from his county team, Yorkshire, in response to a crisis over its handling of a former player’s racism allegations that have rocked the sport.
“These events have fractured our game and torn lives apart,” Root said in a statement issued on Thursday in his first public comments since Yorkshire settled an employment tribunal case with Azeem Rafiq, who had reported a culture of racism and bullying at English cricket’s most successful team.
Yorkshire has already lost sponsors and the right to host England international matches at its Headingley home in the wake of an escalating scandal that has set in motion additional investigations and led to boardroom changes at the county club.
The 30-year-old Root has played for Yorkshire his entire career and has been a teammate of Rafiq, who was the team’s youngest ever captain at the county.
“I want to see change and actions that will see YCCC (Yorkshire County Cricket Club) rise from this with a culture that harnesses a diverse environment with trust across all communities that support cricket in the county,” Root said, adding that he will “offer support however I’m able” to the team’s leadership.
Rafiq, a former England under-19 captain, said in interviews last year that as a Muslim he was made to feel like an “outsider” during two stints at Yorkshire from 2008-18 and was close to taking his own life.
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