Former England pace bowler Ryan Sidebottom, who was recently appointed interim coach of county side Yorkshire, has had to apologise for using “poor choice of words” when discussing the racism scandal at the club in a TV interview.
Yorkshire had recently roped in former pace bowlers Steve Harmison and Sidebottom as interim coaches to take over the reins following cricketer Azeem Rafiq’s racism scandal. Rafiq, the former England U-19 captain, spoke on racism, abuse, and bullying while making an appearance in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee hearing in November.
Following the allegations, several sponsors severed their ties with the club and 16 members of the coaching staff, including previous director of cricket, Martyn Moxon, and head coach Andrew Gale, were forced to leave the club.
Yorkshire Post quoted Sidebottom as saying on Sky Sports that, “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 back firing on all cylinders. But it’s been a tough couple of months hasn’t it for Yorkshire and everyone at the club.”
Sidebottom’s comment infuriated Rafiq, who tweeted, “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.”
Sidebottom posted an apology on Twitter, saying, “I’m truly sorry for any offence caused earlier by my words on @skysportsnews @SkyCricket. We should never forget, we must learn. I never meant to say forget. My choice of words were wrong, and an honest mistake. Here’s what I meant. I disagree wholeheartedly with discrimination and fully support all investigations and actions surrounding any racial abuse at Yorkshire CCC.
“In my interview with Sky Sports News I used the word ‘forget’. This is not what I meant. I didn’t mean that the situation should be forgotten about, on the contrary, it must never be forgotten. It was a poor choice of words.”