Joe Root: It is hard to see Azeem Rafiq hurting as he is

Rafiq, a player of Pakistani origin who captained the England Under-19 side, had alleged racist abuse at Yorkshire stretching back to 2008.

Root called for English cricket to end all forms of discrimination and added that his side would wear anti-discrimination t-shirts ahead of the third test against India.   -  Getty Images

England captain Joe Root expressed sympathy for Azeem Rafiq after the former Yorkshire spinner alleged that he had been a victim of institutional racism at the club.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Root called for English cricket to end all forms of discrimination and said it was hard to see his former Yorkshire teammate "hurting".

"I can't really speculate or comment too much on a report I have not seen. But, as a former teammate and friend, it's hard to see Azeem hurting as he is," said Root.

"More than anything, it just shows that there is a lot of work we have to do in the game... it's a societal issue in my opinion... as a sport, we have got to keep trying to find ways of making sure this isn't a conversation that keeps happening."

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Root added that the England team would wear anti-discrimination t-shirts and observe "a moment of unity" ahead of the third test against India at Headingley.

"We have to keep showing the sport is for everyone and that we are desperate to make everyone feel welcome to it. It's such a brilliant sport and should be open to everyone," he said.

Rafiq, a player of Pakistani origin who captained the England Under-19 side, had alleged racist abuse at Yorkshire stretching back to 2008.

On Thursday, Yorkshire said they had apologised to Rafiq after an independent investigation found that historically he was the "victim of inappropriate behaviour".

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