Yorkshire barred by ECB from hosting international matches over racism row

Professional cricketer Azeem Rafiq had faced "institutional racism" during his stint at Yorkshire.

Headingley Cricket Ground | GettyIn a huge development, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has suspended Yorkshire from hosting international matches over racism row.

During the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement last year, professional cricketer Azeem Rafiq had spoken about the "institutional racism" he faced during his time at Yorkshire.

After an investigation, the Yorkshire County Cricket Club in September this year said Rafiq, during his first stint as a player at YCCC, was the victim of racial harassment and bullying.

Meanwhile, ECB has found Yorkshire County's report "wholly unacceptable" and the board said the matter is "against the spirit of cricket and its values".

ECB further cited that YCCC won’t be allowed to host matches until it can meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member and First Class County.

"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," read ECB statement.

"This matter must be dealt with robustly if the sport is to demonstrate its commitment to truly being a game for everyone," added the statement.

The ECB Board agreed that it will hold YCCC accountable in relation to its 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 own report represents a significant breach of its obligations to the game," said the statement.

“The ECB reaffirmed its commitment to making decisions in the best interests of the whole game as a governing body with duties to act for all in cricket. 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,” the statement added.

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

Before any regulatory investigation is complete, the Board wished to take immediate action in relation to Gary Ballance. On Wednesday, former England batter Gary Ballance admitted that he was the one who used a racial slur against former Yorkshire teammate Azeem Rafiq.

While 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, said the ECB statement.

The Board reiterated its unwavering commitment to ensuring that cricket is a game for everyone. Discrimination of any kind on the field of play, in the dressing room, in the stands, or in the boardroom is intolerable in sport or indeed, society.

(With ECB inputs)


By Salman Anjum - 05 Nov, 2021

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