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Yorkshire suspended from hosting international cricket matches

4 mins read

ECB board announces decision after racism investigation.

The English Cricket Board has announced that Yorkshire County Cricket Club is suspended from hosting Test and major international matches until they can ‘clearly demonstrate that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue’ after being embroiled in the Azeem Rafiq racism row and the handling of it. Yorkshire was to host the third Test against New Zealand in June next year, an ODI against South Africa, and multiple The Hundred matches. Headingley also was scheduled to host an Ashes Test in 2023.

The ECB released a statement, which read,

 ‘It is clear to the Board that YCCC’s handling of the issues raised by Azeem Rafiq is wholly unacceptable and is causing serious damage to the reputation of the game.

‘The ECB find this matter abhorrent and against the spirit of cricket and its values. There is no place for racism or any form of discrimination in cricket and where it is found, swift action must be taken. This matter must be dealt with robustly if the sport is to demonstrate its commitment to truly being a game for everyone.”

The decision comes on the back of the investigation, which led to allegations of racism after interviews with Yorkshire’s former captain Azeem Rafiq. The ECB has received a full copy last week which revealed that Rafiq was called by the racial slur ‘P**i’. Since the revelations, there has been an outroar against Yorkshire, with even UK health secretary, Sajid Javid, demanding for ‘heads to roll.’ 

The incident has also led to the Chairman of Yorkshire, Roger Hutton, resigning from his post to further deepen the ongoing crisis.

Hutton said in a statement,

 “I would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Azeem. 

 ‘For much of my time at the Club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge. There has been a constant unwillingness from the Executive members of the Board [Arthur and Moxon are the executive members of the Board] and senior management at the Club to apologise and to accept racism and to look forward

 ‘During my time as Chairman, I take responsibility for failing to persuade them to take appropriate and timely action. This frustration has been shared by all of the Non-Executive members of the Board, some of whom have also now resigned. I now call for those Executive members of the Board to resign, to make way for a new path for the Club I love so much.

‘I am sorry that we could not persuade Executive members of the Board to recognise the gravity of the situation and show care and contrition. I remain disappointed that legal restrictions, including an ongoing employment tribunal, have prevented the investigation report from being published and look forward to the time that everyone can see its recommendations. I hope for it to be published as soon as possible.

‘Azeem left the Club in August 2018, 18 months before I joined. I have never met Azeem. I know however, that when someone makes claims as serious as his, they need to be investigated and changes need to be made. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Azeem. The Club should have recognised at the time the serious allegations of racism.

‘I want to be clear that when I was made aware of Azeem Rafiq’s allegations, I immediately reached out to the ECB to ask for their help and intervention to support a robust inquiry. I was saddened when they declined to help as I felt it was a matter of great importance for the game as a whole. It is a matter of record that I have continually expressed my frustration at the ECB’s reluctance to act.”

Yorkshire has already lost many sponsors with Emerald Group Publishing, Nike, Yorkshire Tea, and Tetley Bitter, terminating their deals with the Club. The Club’s former chairman Roger Hutton, Chief Executive Mark Arthur, and Director of Cricket Martyn Moxon will be appearing in front of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee later this month on November 16th. The ECB also stated that the Cricket Disciplinary Committee would investigate the findings of the Rafiq investigation and take necessary action. 

 

 

The ECB also put out the following measures: 

 – The ECB will therefore hold YCCC to account concerning their handling of the matter. Given recent events, it is clear there are serious questions regarding the governance and management of YCCC. The Club’s failure in relation to actions and responses to their report represent a significant breach of its obligations to the game.

– As a governing body with duties to act for all in cricket, the ECB Board reaffirmed its commitment to making decisions in the best interests of the whole game. It also agreed that sanctions including, but not limited to, financial and future major match allocations may be considered after our investigations.

– In the meantime, YCCC are suspended from hosting international or major matches until it has demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member, and First Class County.

– The ECB Board has asked the ECB Executive to commission a review of Yorkshire CCC’s governance to consider whether the existing arrangements are fit for purpose.

The regulatory processes already underway into the allegations brought by Azeem Rafiq will ultimately be determined by an independent tribunal (The Cricket Disciplinary Committee).

 – Before any regulatory investigation is complete, the Board wishes to take immediate action concerning Gary Ballance. While Mr. Ballance has not been selected to play for England since 2017, he will be suspended indefinitely from the selection. This position will be reviewed following the ECB regulatory investigation into his conduct.

 

 

The ECB also announced that they have taken immediate action with respect to Gary Ballance, the former English cricketer who admitted to using racist and offensive language towards Rafiq. The ECB released a statement with regards to the development, stating, “While Mr Ballance has not been selected to play for England since 2017, he will be suspended indefinitely from selection. This position will be reviewed following the ECB regulatory investigation into his conduct.” Former England captain Michael Vaughan has also been accused of racism during his time with Yorkshire, but Vaughan has denied the claims. Vaughan’s former teammate at Yorkshire, former Pakistani international Rana Naved-ul Hasan, remains adamant that he overheard the Englishman make racist comments towards the Asian players at Yorkshire in 2009.

 

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