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England captain Joe Root says Yorkshire racism row has ‘fractured our game and torn lives apart’

England captain Joe Root says Yorkshire racism scandal has ‘fractured our game and torn lives apart’ and calls for ‘change and actions… to make the sport better for everyone’

  • Joe Root, the England captain, plays cricket at county level for Yorkshire
  • The 30-year-old is currently in Australia preparing for the upcoming Ashes
  • Root’s former team-mate, Azeem Rafiq, was found by an independent report to have been subject to racial harassment and bullying

England captain Joe Root has called for ‘change and actions’ from Yorkshire in response to the racism crisis engulfing his county, claiming the issue has ‘fractured our game and torn lives apart’.

Root, who is currently in Australia leading the Test side’s Ashes preparations, issued a statement on the matter following weeks of escalating pressure at the club he has represented since childhood.

A former team-mate, Azeem Rafiq, was found by an independent report to have been subject to racial harassment and bullying and subsequent allegations have emerged from others setting in motion additional investigations.

Root said in a statement: ‘In my capacity as England captain and as a senior player at Yorkshire, I feel compelled to address the current situation that has consumed the sport and YCCC.

‘I just want the sport to be a place where everyone is enjoying it for the beautiful game it is and feels equal and safe. It hurts knowing this has happened at YCCC so close to home. It’s my club that I care passionately about it. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting. There is no debate about racism, no one side or other. It is simply intolerable.

England captain Joe Root has spoken out about the racism scandal that has rocked cricket

A former Yorkshire team-mate of Root's, Azeem Rafiq, was found by an independent report to have been subject to racial harassment and bullying

A former Yorkshire team-mate of Root’s, Azeem Rafiq, was found by an independent report to have been subject to racial harassment and bullying

‘These events have fractured our game and torn lives apart. We must now recover and come back together as fans, players, media, and those who work within cricket. We have an opportunity to make the sport I love better for everyone.

‘I want to see change and actions that will see YCCC rise from this with a culture that harnesses a diverse environment with trust across all communities that support cricket in the county.

‘We need to educate, unify and reset. I will reach out to YCCC new Chair, Lord Patel, to offer support however I’m able.

‘We have to find a way to move forward and make sure this never happens again. In my opinion, this is a societal issue and needs addressing further afield than just cricket.

‘That being said, we, as a sport, all have to do more. How can we all help shape things moving forward positively? What can everyone from myself, the ECB, counties, players, officials and others in the sport do to improve the state of the game? 

‘I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I think we need to educate more and earlier; we must call it out straight away and have our eyes and ears open more.

The 30-year-old Root plays his county cricket for Yorkshire, where he is a senior player

The 30-year-old Root plays his county cricket for Yorkshire, where he is a senior player

Root (left) is currently in Australia, leading the England preparations for the Ashes tour

Root (left) is currently in Australia, leading the England preparations for the Ashes tour

‘Inclusivity, diversity and anti-discrimination is something over the past few years the England teams I have been involved in have spent a lot of time talking about and are very passionate about improving and making a big difference. 

‘It’s a big part of our culture, and we want to celebrate our diversity. We are representing England, and in that, we are representing the multicultural society we live in. We want all the fans to be able to enjoy what we do on the field and feel proud about who’s representing them.

‘With the Ashes fast approaching, I’d really like the fans back home to unite and get behind us as a team. We will be playing for you all.’



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