LONDON: England leg-spinner Adil Rashid has backed former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq's accusation of racism against Michael Vaughan, saying he can "confirm" the former captain's comments were directed at a group of Asian players.
The 33-year-old Rashid, who was a key member of the England team that reached the semifinals of the just-concluded T20 World Cup, said he will be "happy to support" any further official investigations into Rafiq's claims.
Rafiq had made allegations of institutional racism against Yorkshire, whom Vaughan formerly captained and Rashid still plays for. He had claimed that Vaughan said to a group of the team's Asian players that there were "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it" before a match in 2009.
Vaughan has categorically denied Rafiq's allegations.
"I wanted to concentrate as much as possible on my cricket and to avoid distractions to the detriment of the team, but I can confirm Azeem Rafiq's recollection of Michael Vaughan's comments to a group of us Asian players," Rashid said, according to ESPNCricinfo.
"Racism is a cancer in all walks of life and unfortunately in professional sports too, and is something which of course has to be stamped out," Rashid said.
Vaughan had admitted that he was the former player implicated in the investigation into Rafiq's allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire but "completely and categorically" denied the charges and vowed to "fight" to clear his name.
"I completely and categorically deny that I ever said those words. I have nothing to hide. The 'you lot' comment never happened," the 2005 Ashes-winning captain had written in a newspaper column.
"Anyone trying to recollect words said 10 years ago will be fallible but I am adamant those words were not used. If Rafiq believes something was said at the time to upset him then that is what he believes."
The raging controversy has already led to the resignations of Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton and chief executive Mark Arthur.
Rashid is the second of Rafiq's teammates to support his allegations, with former Pakistan bowler Rana Naved ul-Hasan having also said he heard Vaughan's comment.
"I'm encouraged by the fact that a parliamentary committee seems to be trying to improve the situation, whether that's holding people accountable or getting changes made at an institutional level," Rashid said.
"These can only be positive developments. I will of course be more than happy to support any official efforts when the time is right. For now, though, these matters are of an intensely personal nature and I will not be commenting on them further. I ask you to respect my privacy and allow me to focus on my cricket.
"I want to thank the ECB, the fans and especially my teammates for all of their support. We didn't get the result we wanted in this World Cup, but I hope that the unity of our dressing room and the leadership of our captain will propel us forward to achieve what we deserve in the future."
An independent report commissioned by Yorkshire found Rafiq was the victim of "racial harassment and bullying" during his two spells at the county, the first from 2008-2014 and the second from 2016-2018.
Yorkshire accepted the findings of the report but announced no disciplinary action would be taken against any employees.
The county have been widely criticised for its response. The ECB suspended their right to host international and major matches at Headingley and a host of major sponsors cut ties with the club.
The ECB also banned cricketer Gary Ballance from England selection for an indefinite period after he admitted using a racial slur against his ex-Yorkshire teammate Rafiq.
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