Gary Ballance says he regrets using racial slurs against Azeem Rafiq during their time together in Yorkshire
Ballance, who joined Yorkshire in 2008, played with Rafiq during his two terms in the county
Former England international Gary Ballance said he “regrets” the use of racist language against his former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq.
In a long and emotional statement, Ballance said he was responsible for some of the offensive terms Rafiq was exposed to while at Headingley.
“I have been reported to have used a racial slur and as I told the independent investigation I accept and regret doing so,” said Ballance, 31.
“To be clear, I deeply regret some of the language I used when I was young.”
Ballance, who played 23 friendly matches for England, said Rafiq was “his best friend in cricket” and “has a lot for him”, adding that “we were very supportive of each other on the pitch”.
“I don’t want to discredit Rafa by repeating his words and statements about myself and others, but I have to make it clear that this was a situation where best friends said offensive things to each other that were considered totally in -propriate outside of this context,” added Ballance added.
“I regret that this exchange took place, but at no point did I believe or understand that it brought Rafa into distress.
“If I believed that, I would have stopped right away. He was my best buddy in cricket and I took great care of him. To the best of my knowledge, it was never said that I moved Rafa to tears.”
Zimbabwean-born Ballance said he and Rafiq have “remained close friends” with his teammate, who is traveling to Zimbabwe to stay with Ballance’s family throughout the time we have exchanged these in -propriate comments. Ballance said he was also invited to Rafiq’s wedding in Pakistan, which he was unable to attend.
He added, “That doesn’t mean what h -pened between us was right or -propriate. It was not. Rafa told me things that were not acceptable and I did the same to Rafa. I never said anything with intentional malice or anger to Rafa. “
ESPN Cricinfo published an interview with Rafiq in September 2020 in which he alleged “institutional racism” in the Yorkshire County Cricket Club put him on the verge of suicide, which prompted an investigation by the club.
In September this year, Yorkshire released the results of the report that said Rafiq was the “victim of racial harassment and bullying,” with seven of the player’s 43 allegations being confirmed by an independent panel.
In October Yorkshire said it had conducted its own internal investigation into the results of the report and concluded that “none of its employees, players or managers has engaged in any conduct or action that warrants disciplinary action”.
Rafiq received a heavily edited version of the findings of the report on his allegations after Yorkshire failed to meet the Friday October 8 deadline for full clearance by a labor court.
However, on Monday ESPN claimed to have seen edited elements of the report, including the fact that a racist term about Rafiq’s Pakistani heritage was regularly used against him, but the Yorkshire report concluded that they were “kind and good-natured Jokes ”acted.
Earlier this week Julian Knight MP, chairman of the Special Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport urged the Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s board of directors to resign after a leaked report that -peared to provide details of the investigation into Rafiq’s treatment, the left Yorkshire in 2018.
“I am aware of how hurtful the racial slur is”
Ballance said he had “no choice but to give a public response” after media reports that he believed gave a “misleading impression of the evidence heard in the investigation”.
“I am aware of how hurtful the racial slur is and I regret using that word in immature conversation when I was young and I am sure that Rafa did the same with some of the things he said to me thinks, “he said.
“My intention throughout this process was to be honest and to work with the independent investigation.
“Given the recent media reports, it is only right that I make my position public on behalf of my family and my family.”
Rafiq report timeline
September 2, 2020: ESPN Cricinfo publishes an interview with Rafiq in which he claims “institutional racism” in the Yorkshire County Cricket Club brought him close to suicide.
September 3, 2020: Yorkshire says They have opened a “formal investigation” into Rafiq’s allegations, and chairman Roger Hutton says the club will conduct “further reviews” of their “politics and culture”.
September 5, 2020: Yorkshire ask an independent law firm Investigate Rafiq allegations against the club.
11/13/2020: Rafiq says he hopes to bring about a “meaningful change” following his initial response to the investigation.
December 15, 2020: Rafiq files a legal claim against Yorkshire, which alleges “direct racial discrimination and harassment, as well as victimization and impairment by attempting to address racism in the club”.
February 2, 2021: Yorkshire faces a lifelong ban for anyone who threatened Rafiq or his family and legal team after ESPN Cricinfo showed them messages sent to Rafiq’s law firm.
June 17, 2021: A labor court case between Rafiq and his former Yorkshire club finds no solution. The independent investigation into his racism allegations is still ongoing.
08/16/2021: Yorkshire receives the results an independent investigation into allegations of racism and two days later the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) asks for a copy.
08/19/2021: Yorkshire, which at this point does not have to publish the results of the report, admit Rafiq was “the victim of in -propriate behavior” and offers him her “deep -ology”.
Rafiq accuses Yorkshire of downplaying racism by calling him a victim of “in -propriate behavior”.
September 8, 2021: MPs say Yorkshire publish the results of the report “immediately”.
10.09.2021: Yorkshire publishes the results of the report, Rafiq was the “victim of racial harassment and bullying” and seven of the player’s 43 allegations were confirmed by an independent panel.
According to Hutton, the report said there was “insufficient evidence to conclude that the Yorkshire County Cricket Club is institutionally racist”.
Yorkshire released a summary of the report and the panel’s recommendations, but said the full report could not be published due to legal reasons “relating to data protection law and defamation”.
October 8, 2021: Yorkshire missed a deadline Send the full report to Rafiq and his Legal Department after Sport learned that a labor judge ordered the club to clear him in full by Friday October 8th.
October 13, 2021: Rafiq then receives a heavily edited version, while the ECB says it is still waiting for the full report.
October 28, 2021: Yorkshire says it conducted its own internal investigation following the report’s findings and completed that “none of its employees, players or managers has taken any behavior or action that warrants disciplinary action”.
November 2, 2021: The Special Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sports calls on Hutton to -pear before him to answer questions about Yorkshire’s handling of a report on Rafiq’s allegations of racism.
Julian Knight MP, Chair of the DCMS Select Committee, calls on the board of directors of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club to resign after a leaked report -peared that -peared to provide details of the investigation into Rafiq’s treatment.
A story published by ESPN said the report concluded that a racist term used against Rafiq would be viewed as a “banter”.
Knight makes his comments after UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid called for “heads rolling” in Yorkshire and said that if the ECB does not take action, it is “not fit for purpose”. In a Twitter post, he said the term allegedly used to describe Rafiq was “no joke”.
November 3, 2021: The DCMS hearing is scheduled for November 16 and Rafiq is called to give personal testimony, along with senior Yorkshire officials.
Multiple sponsors, including main sponsor Emerald Publishing and Yorkshire Tea, end their partnerships with the Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
Ballance released a long statement expressing regret that he used a racial slur against former Yorkshire teammate Rafiq.