Azeem Rafiq urges rethink over removal of Jewish Under 19s cricket captain over Gaza war

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Azeem Rafiq urges rethink over removal of Jewish Under 19s cricket captain over Gaza war

Star bowler whose allegations of racism while playing for Yorkshire prompted a damning investigation brands Cricket South Africa's decision 'horribly wrong'

Richard Ferrer has been editor of Jewish News since 2009. As one of Britain's leading Jewish voices he writes for The Times, Independent, New Statesman and many other titles. Richard previously worked at the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, edited the Boston Jewish Advocate and created the Channel 4 TV series Jewish Mum Of The Year.

Azeem Rafiq playing for Yorkshire and South African rising star David Teeger.
Azeem Rafiq playing for Yorkshire and South African rising star David Teeger.

The cricketer whose allegations of racism while playing for Yorkshire prompted a damning investigation into prejudice in the sport has urged Cricket South Africa (CSA) to reconsider its decision to replace its Jewish Under-19 captain due to the conflict in Gaza.

In 2020, bowler Azeem Rafiq accused some of his Yorkshire teammates of using racist language like “P***” towards him, leading to fines and suspensions from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Rafiq, who captained England’s Under-19 side as a teenager, has now spoken out against CSA’s decision to remove David Teeger as its Under-19 captain due to the conflict between Israel and terror group Hamas.

Teeger, who won a Jewish Rising Star award last year, had been set to lead his country at the Under-19 World Cup, due to begin in South Africa on 19 January, but will now take the field under a replacement captain.

Rafiq told Jewish News: “Cricket South Africa has got this horribly wrong. The decision to remove David Teeger as captain on grounds of safety doesn’t make any sense as it only increases the security risks. There’s still time to rethink and give him the opportunity that he’s earned.”

A spokesperson for CSA said: “We have been advised that protests related to the war in Gaza can be anticipated at the venues for the tournament. CSA has decided that David should be relieved of the captaincy for the tournament. This is in the best interests of all the players, the SA U19 team and David himself.”

Tensions over the Palestinian conflict are running high in South Africa, which has formally accused Israel of genocide at the United Nations International Court of Justice.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ (SAJBD) national chair Karen Milner accused Cricket South Africa of an “outrageous act of antisemitism”. She said: “There is no basis for this decision, other than the fact that Teeger is Jewish. This is not the first time that Jews have been excluded from sporting bodies in our history. The SAJBD will do everything in its power to fight against this vicious prejudice.”

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