Yorkshire banned from hosting major games over racism case

English cricket club Yorkshire has been suspended from hosting international matches as punishment for its handling of a racism case that has shaken the game.

The England and Wales Cricket Board slammed the club for its “wholly unacceptable” response to the racism faced by former player Azeem Rafiq.

Headingley was due to host an Ashes Test in 2023.Credit:AP

A number of sponsors have deserted the beleaguered club, and the ECB said the case “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,” the governing body said in a statement.

Yorkshire’s Headingley ground is scheduled to host England’s Test against New Zealand and a men’s one-day international against South Africa in 2022, as well as an Ashes Test in 2023.

But the ECB said the club was “suspended from hosting international or major matches until it has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue.”

Yorkshire said last month it would not take disciplinary action against any employees, players or executives despite a report that found Rafiq — one of its former captains — was the victim of racial harassment and bullying.

Rafiq, a former England under-19 captain, said in interviews last year that as a Muslim he was made to feel like an “outsider” during his time at Yorkshire from 2008-18 and that he had been close to taking his own life.

A formal independent investigation was commissioned by Yorkshire into more than 40 allegations made by Rafiq, with seven of them upheld in a report released last month.

On Wednesday, former England cricketer Gary Ballance admitted using a racial slur against Rafiq when they were teammates at Yorkshire, but said “this was a situation where best friends said offensive things to each other which, outside of that context, would be considered wholly inappropriate.”

AP

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