Zoheb Sharif in 2001
Zoheb Sharif predominantly played in Essex’s second team

Former Essex player Zoheb Sharif has made allegations of racist abuse relating to his time at the club between 2001 and 2004.

It comes after Essex chief executive John Stephenson said on Saturday he was “extremely saddened” an ex-player had made racism allegations.

Batter Sharif, now 38, started playing for Essex at the age of eight.

He went on to make four County Championship appearances for the club before being released.

“It was a day after the September 11 attacks. People started calling me Bomber,” Sharif told the Mirror.external-link

“I didn’t say anything at the time. I was a teenager in a dressing room with big characters. To them it was banter. To me it wasn’t, but you don’t want to do anything to block your chance of getting into the first team.”

On Saturday, Stephenson said that he was “extremely shocked and saddened” to learn of a racism allegation.

“There is absolutely no place for discrimination of any kind at Essex County Cricket Club,” he added.external-link

Essex said they are encouraging any former players, staff or those associated with the club to come forward, either in person or anonymously, if they had experienced discrimination.

“I immediately reached out to the former player to offer him my and Essex County Cricket Club’s full support and to encourage him to come forward and talk to myself and the club about his experiences,” said Stephenson.

“We will put the right care in place for him and we applaud his bravery and courage for speaking out on such a sensitive issue after all these years.

“All allegations, regardless of when they took place, will be investigated thoroughly and urgently.”

On Friday, Essex chairman John Faragher resigned following an allegation he used racist language in a 2017 board meeting, which he denies.

Sharif’s allegations come in the wake of a racism scandal at Yorkshire that has engulfed cricket.

A report found former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying” but the county said it would not discipline anyone, drawing widespread condemnation.

Chief executive Mark Arthur and chairman Roger Hutton have both resigned, while on Tuesday, Yorkshire suspended coach Andrew Gale for a tweet he sent in 2010.

Yorkshire will open an independent whistleblowing hotline for victims of discrimination on Monday.

“Azeem has shone a light on what’s been going on,” said Sharif, who says he sees “many parallels” between the Rafiq case and what he has been through.

Source: BBC

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