Azeem Rafik. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Azem Rafiq says the former teammate Gary Ballance did cricket and the fight against racism a ‘great service’ by apologizing to him in person for using racist language while the pair played for yorkshire.
Ballance, who played 23 Tests for England and had already apologized to Rafiq in November, added in a statement published in The cricketer that he had used “unacceptable – sometimes racist – language” in her presence.
“If I had realized how much it hurt Azeem, I would have quit immediately,” Ballance said. “That’s why I wanted to meet him this week and be clear in person that I had no malicious intent.
“This is not an excuse, I realize the language I used was wrong. I accepted from the start the words I used were wrong and I hope this statement will bring some comfort to Azeem.
“There is no place in our sport for this behavior and I am determined to play my part in ridding the game of racism and making it more inclusive. To do this we all need to be honest and learn from our past mistakes. .”
Rafiq, a Pakistani-born former England Under-19 captain, told a UK parliamentary committee last year of “inhumane” treatment in Yorkshire and described sport in England as riddled with racism.
On Thursday, he welcomed Ballance’s apology.
“He has done cricket and the fight against racism a great service with those words,” Rafiq said. “I would also like to thank those who have been in contact with me privately to apologize for what they witnessed.”
Rafiq added: “Gary was brave to admit the truth and I understand why the mental strain made it difficult for him to apologize earlier.
“Gary should be applauded for his honesty and his unreserved apologies and should now be allowed to move on with his life.”


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