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16th Nov 2021

Cricketer Azeem Rafiq was ‘pinned down’ and forced to drink red wine as a 15-year-old

Callum Boyle

Rafiq recalled the horrifying account of his story as a 15-year-old at his local cricket club

Former cricketer Azeem Rafiq has recalled the horrifying story of being “pinned down” and forced to drink red wine as a 15-year-old at his local cricket club.

The former Yorkshire County Cricket Club player was speaking in front of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee hearing into the response from Yorkshire CCC to the allegations Rafiq made about the racism he experienced during his time at the club.

One of the topics that came up during the hearing was Rafiq’s relationship to alcohol, in which chair of the committee, Julian Knight, asked the former White Rose player to talk about his experiences.

The 30-year-old admitted that whilst he regretted his decision to drink, it had no influence on the racial abuse he suffered during his time at Yorkshire.

He said: “I’ve been clear from the offset, I wasn’t perfect. There’s things I did that I felt I had to do to fit in and try and achieve my dreams.

“I’m not proud of them. It’s something that I deeply regret but it has no relation to racism.

“I should never have ever been treated the way I got treated. When I spoke, I should have been listened to but Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and the game as a whole, really has a problem in listening to the victim.”

Rafiq then went on to add a horrifying tale of his first memory of alcohol, which involved him being forced by his teammates to drink red wine at the age of 15.

“In my first incident of drinking I actually got pinned down at my local cricket club and red wine got poured down my throat,” he recalled.

“How old were you?” asked Knight.

“15,” replied Rafiq.

“15 and you were a Muslim?” replied the DCMS chair once again.

Rafiq then told the story in more detail, revealing that one of the teammates – who remained unnamed – involved in the grim tale went on to play for Yorkshire and Hampshire.

He said: “15 years old, I got it literally down my throat and the player played for Yorkshire, played for Hampshire and yeah, it was quite an experience.

“I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol until around about 2012 and around that time I felt like I had to do that to fit in.

“Like I said, I regret that massively but again, it has no bearings on the things that I was called.”