London, November 20
Former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq, who is at the centre of the racism controversy in English cricket, has been accused of sending “vulgar” messages to a teenage girl six years ago, the ‘Yorkshire Post’ reported.
Gayathri Ajith was only 16 when she met Rafiq but said she told him she was 17 in order to appear a “bit older”.
She said, according to the report, that the cricketer sent the inappropriate WhatsApp messages to her in December 2015, three months after they met on a flight from Manchester to Dubai. Besides, she also turned down an invitation from Rafiq for dinner in Dubai.
Screenshots of messages from a number belonging to Rafiq, sent in December 2015, read: “u know what I wanted to do on the plane?” and “I want to grab you push u up against wall and kiss you”.
“I was just kind of shocked by the crudity of those messages. They were just so vulgar,” she told the ‘Yorkshire Post’, describing the messages as “creepy”.
Responding to the allegations, a spokesman for Rafiq told the English daily: “This was put to us late on a Friday evening. We need to look into this, so cannot comment further for now.”
The allegations came right after Rafiq was accused of making anti-Semitic remarks during a text exchange with a fellow Asian player back in 2011, for which he has apologised.
The woman, who is now 22 and lives in Yorkshire, questioned some bit of Rafiq’s allegations of racism against his former club.
“I’m not disputing any of his racism claims, because I’m sure they’re very true experiences. But certain aspects of what he said just don’t really sit right with me.
“If he was being forced to drink by his teammates, then surely that wouldn’t then mean he would be drinking alone on a flight and encouraging a 17-year-old girl to be drinking with him.” She added: “His behaviour towards me was a direct contradiction really of what he said in his testimony.
“He’s calling for equality and respect, but why is he not embodying that in all aspects? Especially in his tone towards women. It’s hypocrisy.
“He is being put on this pedestal for inciting systemic change, but he’s really contributing to the problem of the vulgar attitudes towards women. The whole nature of that doesn’t sit right with me.” A teary-eyed Rafiq told British lawmakers on Tuesday that he believed he lost his career due to racism.
Rafiq said racism in English cricket was institutional, recalling the “humiliating treatment” he received at the club.
An independent report found the Pakistan-born player was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying” while Rafiq himself said he had been driven to thoughts of suicide over the way he was treated. PTI
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