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David Lloyd apologises to Azeem Rafiq after being accused of alleged racist remarks

Azeem Rafiq said Sky Sports pundit David Lloyd made racist comments about him; Lloyd: "I deeply regret my actions, and I apologise most sincerely to Azeem and to the Asian cricket community for doing this, and for any offence caused"; Sky confirms it "will be investigating" remarks

LEEDS, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Sky TV commentator and presenter David Lloyd before the fifth One Day International between England and Pakistan at Headingley on May 19, 2019 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** David Lloyd

Sky Sports pundit David Lloyd has apologised to Azeem Rafiq after he was accused of making racist comments.

Rafiq said the former England international attempted to smear him in an attempt to suppress his allegations of racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

"I sat in front of national TV and talked about the dark places this whole episode has got me into and what's happened since then? Denial, briefings, cover-ups, smearing," Rafiq told a DCMS committee at Westminster on Tuesday.

"High-profile media people messaging other members of the media who supported me saying stuff like 'the club houses are the life blood of a club and Asian players don't go in there', 'getting subs out of Asian players is like getting blood out of stone'.

"And then personally this guy doesn't even know me, has never spent any time with me, is talking about my personal drinking, going out and socialising.

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Azeem Rafiq says the racism he experienced at Yorkshire made him feel 'isolated' and 'humiliated'. (Warning: video contains offensive language and content that viewers may find upsetting)

"That was David Lloyd, he's been an England coach, commentator, and I found it disturbing because Sky are supposedly doing this amazing work on bringing racism to the front and within a week of me speaking out that's what I got sent to me. And I thought, "Gosh, there's some closet racists and we need to do something about it".'

Lloyd released a statement on his Twitter account later on Tuesday, apologising to the wider Asian cricket community for his comments.

"In October 2020, I had a private message exchange with a third party involved in cricket, about a number of topics," Lloyd said.

"In these messages, I referred to allegations about Azeem Rafiq which I had heard from within the game. I also made some comments about the Asian cricket community.

"I deeply regret my actions, and I apologise most sincerely to Azeem and to the Asian cricket community for doing this, and for any offence caused.

"I am strongly committed to making cricket a more inclusive sport. It is very obvious now that more work needs to be done and I will do everything I can to remove discrimination from the sport I love, and the sport that has been my life for over 50 years."

Sky said in a statement on Tuesday evening: "Sky is committed to actively championing inclusion in cricket - and in all sports - and opposing all forms of discrimination. We will be investigating the comments attributed to David Lloyd in today's select committee hearing."

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