Azeem Rafiq reacts after ECB bans Yorkshire from hosting international matches over racism row
Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq said he needs a little time to reflect on the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) actions which was highlighted by the suspension of Yorkshire from hosting international or major matches over their handling of allegations of racism.
“I note the statement from the ECB. I need a little time to reflect on what the ECB has said this evening and the actions they’re proposing to take. I will not be commenting further at this time,” Rafiq tweeted.
“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,” ECB announced.
"As a governing body with duties to act for all in cricket, the ECB Board reaffirmed its commitment to taking 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 at the conclusion of our investigations.
“In the meantime, YCCC are suspended from hosting international or major matches until it has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member and First Class County,” the ECB further added.
England batter Gary Balance, who admitted using racial language towards Rafiq and also regretted the action, was also banned from international cricket till pending inquiry.
“Before any regulatory investigation is complete, the Board wishes to take immediate action in relation to Gary Ballance. 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,” ECB said.
Rafiq and senior Yorkshire executives have been called to give evidence before a parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) panel on November 16.
Several sponsors have ended their partnerships with Yorkshire following an independent report into allegations of racism made by Rafiq, with Nike saying on Thursday that they have cancelled a four-year deal that was signed in March.
"Nike will no longer be the kit supplier for Yorkshire CCC. We stand firmly against racism and discrimination of any kind," Nike said in a statement reported by British media.
Emerald Group Publishing, Yorkshire Tea and Tetley Bitter, among others sponsors, have also said they will end their relationships with the club.
Yorkshire said last month that they would not take action nL1N2RO1Q9 against employees, players or executives following the report, which found Rafiq had been a victim of racial harassment and bullying in his first spell at the county from 2008-14.
Rafiq and senior Yorkshire executives have been called to give evidence before a parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) panel on Nov. 16.
DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight said in a statement on Thursday that the punishment meted out by the ECB was overdue.
"The ECB’s action in taking international cricket away from Yorkshire should act as a short, sharp shock to bring the club to its senses.
"Like the rest of us, I imagine the members of Yorkshire County Cricket Club will be questioning why the board is still in place.
"As for Mr Ballance, I’m choosing at this time not to comment on the specifics of the case. However, it would have been completely unacceptable if they had left him eligible for selection for the England cricket team."
Rafiq, a player of Pakistani descent and a former captain of the England Under-19s, said last year he was made to feel like an outsider at Yorkshire and contemplated taking his own life.
(With agency inputs)