Cricket-Hard to see Rafiq 'hurting', says England skipper Root

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

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

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

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 team mate "hurting".

"I can't really speculate or comment too much on a report I have not seen. But, as a former team mate 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."

Root added that the England team will 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.

The third test starts on Wednesday, with the hosts trailing 1-0 in the five-match series.

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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