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Ryan Sidebottom apologises after calling for Yorkshire to ‘forget’ racism scandal

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Interim coach criticised by Azeem Rafiq after ‘poor choice of words’ in Sky interview

Ryan Sidebottom, Yorkshire’s interim coach, has apologised for his “poor choice of words” on the subject of the club’s racism scandal, during an interview with Sky Sports.
Sidebottom was appointed last week to work under the club’s new director of cricket, Darren Gough, in the wake of the sacking of 16 members of staff, including Gough’s predecessor Martyn Moxon and Andrew Gale, the former first-team coach.

That purge followed the resignation of chairman Roger Hutton and chief executive Mark Arthur, in the wake of damning testimony from Azeem Rafiq, the former Yorkshire allrounder, who told a parliamentary select committee hearing in November that he had been the victim of institutional racism during his time at the club.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Sidebottom – who had two spells at Yorkshire between 1997 and 2017, and was a three-times County Championship winner in 2001, 2014 and 2015, – said: “It’s been tough viewing, tough listening, seeing social media. It’s been very difficult for lots of reasons for a lot of people.

“Let’s try and forget about it. There’s no room for racism in any walk of life and hopefully now we can move forward, sort things out, do the right thing and get Yorkshire firing on all cylinders.

“But it’s been a tough couple of months, hasn’t it, for Yorkshire and everyone involved at the club.”

Asked if he had heard any racist language during his time at the club, which overlapped with Rafiq’s spell between 2008 and 2017, Sidebottom said: “Not necessarily. For me personally, I just got on with my cricket and all players.”

Rafiq responded to Sidebottom’s comments by posting the video of his interview on Twitter, alongside the comment: “Let’s definitely not just ‘Forget it’ Learn from it and make things better. Wish it was that easy just to forget it and pretend nothing happened.”

Amid a subsequent backlash, Sidebottom later added an apology on Twitter, saying: “I’m truly sorry for any offence caused earlier by my words on @skysportsnews @SkyCricket.

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