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‘I stand by what I said’ – Joe Root reaffirms stance over Azeem Rafiq racism allegations


Joe Root remains certain that he didn’t hear any instances of racism at Yorkshire CCC (Picture: Getty)

Joe Root has stood by his statement that he does not recall witnessing any instances of racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. 

Root’s latest comments come after Rafiq described the England captain’s original denial of hearing any racism as ‘hurtful’ when he stood before a parliamentary select committee earlier this month.

‘To be clear, Root is a good man. He’s never engaged in racist language. I found [his statement] hurtful, because Rooty was not only Gary [Ballance’s] housemate but, before he started playing for England, he was involved in a lot of those socialising nights out where I’d been called a p***,’ Rafiq said.

But despite Rafiq’s frustration, Root has again reaffirmed his stance, while also admitting that both he and cricket must learn from the scandal.

‘I stand by what I said. I don’t recall those instances [at Yorkshire] and if they are oversights on my part then that is an area we all have to learn from and I have to learn from,’ Root told reporters. 

‘I think about things that have happened since then. There have been things that have happened on a cricket field where I feel like I have stepped in and called things out.

Azeem Rafiq was hurt by Root saying he didn’t hear any racism (Picture: Getty)

‘I think that comes from growth and learning, understanding and education. There is still further education that I need to undergo and develop myself further. Within our game, I think everyone does.

‘There is so much work that has to be done – so much energy has to be thrown into this and there has to be a real drive to make a real difference.

‘Things have happened, especially at Yorkshire, which are unacceptable and that we have to learn from. We can’t change the past but we can make sure moving forward that we shape the future.

‘We must do everything we can to make the dressing rooms within cricket – professional, international, club – as inclusive as possible so that no one feels like they are treated differently. That has to start at the top of the game.

‘I think there is a huge amount of sadness [over what Rafiq went through] and a huge amount of learning has to be done off the back of that. We have to do everything we can to make sure that we continue to find ways of making the game as diverse as possible and championing that.’

The England captain refused to comment on the allegation that Gary Ballance used the name ‘Kevin’ as a derogatory term within the England dressing room, but did add ‘that clearly that is a phrase which you should never be using in any part of society.’

‘I look at the group of players that are around this team and the other two England men’s teams and we have spent a lot of time talking about these topics, what has happened and how we can make a real difference,’ Root continued.

‘I feel there is a lot of good conversations happening which can hopefully now follow into action and that we can really start to drive the game from our position at the spearpoint of the sport.

Root couldn’t comment on allegations made towards Gary Ballance (Picture: Getty)

‘It is very uncomfortable and horrible to hear some of the stories around cricket and the experiences some people have lived through. It is not an easy subject.

‘We want to find ways of eradicating it. We have thought about how we can offer more. We are keen to develop and learn and educate ourselves.

‘If there are ways as an England team that we can help society and use cricket as a vehicle for bringing communities together we will absolutely try everything we can to do just that.

‘You learn from each other and different things your team-mates experience, whether that is things that happen in games, things said from the crowd.

‘You learn from the impact that has on guys that you care about and think ‘how can we make a difference, how can we change things?’

‘I am not saying we have always got things completely right – we haven’t – but we clearly have got to keep looking to get better, have those difficult conversations which will make this a lot better process and hopefully make our game better for everyone.’


MORE : Cricket’s 12-point action plan to tackle racism amid Azeem Rafiq scandal


MORE : Michael Vaughan ’embarrassed’ by old tweets and makes fresh Azeem Rafiq apology

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