Yorkshire loses the right to host England

Headingley held the third test between England and India this summer

Yorkshire has been suspended from hosting England matches as the England and Wales Cricket Board issued a devastating reprimand for the club’s response to the racism experienced by former player Azeem Rafiq.

An investigation found that Rafiq was the victim of “racial harassment and intimidation”, but the club said it would not take any disciplinary action.

The ECB board says the ban will last until the club has “clearly demonstrated that it can meet the expected standards.”

He added that it is “clear” that Yorkshire’s handling of the problem is “totally unacceptable and is causing serious damage to the reputation of the game.”

A statement read: “Given recent events, it is clear that there are serious doubts regarding the governance and management of YCCC.

“The club’s breach of the actions and responses to its own report represent a significant breach of its obligations to the game.”

Gary Ballance from Yorkshire, who has admitted to using racist language towards his former teammate Rafiq, has been suspended indefinitely from the England team.

MP Julian Knight, who called for the resignation of the Yorkshire board this week and is chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, said he hoped the sanctions imposed by the ECB “would act as a short and sharp shock to bring the club in its senses “.

“Like the rest of us, I imagine members of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club will be questioning why the board is still in place,” he added.

He said it would have been “completely unacceptable” if Ballance were still eligible for England.

The fallout from Yorkshire’s response to the racism report intensified on Monday when ESPN Cricinfo reported that a racist term was regularly used about Rafiq’s Pakistani heritage, but the investigation concluded it was “a good-natured and friendly joke.”

Headingley will host a men’s event against New Zealand and a men’s one-day international against South Africa in 2022.

The Leeds ground is also scheduled to host an ash test against Australia in 2023.

Kit suppliers Nike and several sponsors have cut ties with the club.

The ECB board has also asked the ECB executive to commission a review to determine whether Yorkshire’s leadership is fit for purpose. A full ECB investigation into the matter is ongoing.

At the end of the ECB investigation, additional counterpart allocation and financial penalties may be imposed.

Following Thursday’s statement, Rafiq, 30, said: “I need a little time to reflect on what the ECB has said tonight and the actions they propose to take.”

“I will not comment further at this time.”

How do we get here? The 15-month scandal

Azeem Rafiq
A former England youth captain, Azeem Rafiq played for Yorkshire for two stints and was county captain in a Twenty20 match in 2012.

The Yorkshire investigations began in September 2020 after Rafiq, who played for Yorkshire between 2008 and 2018, claimed that “institutional racism” at the club left him close to taking his own life.

After more than a year, and after being asked by MPs, Yorkshire released the findings of an independent report in September that confirmed seven of the 43 allegations made by Rafiq.

But the club said no player, coach or executive would face disciplinary action following the club’s own investigation into the report’s findings.

That move, and the subsequent claim that the report judged the use of a racist term as a “joke,” has led high-ranking politicians, including health secretary Sajid Javid, to criticize the club.

MP Julian Knight, chairman of the Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has also called on the Yorkshire board to step down.

Senior Yorkshire officials have been summoned to attend a DCMS select committee hearing on November 16, where Rafiq will also give testimony.

Ballance, who has not played for England since 2017, said Wednesday he “regrets” using the offensive terms.

Rafiq report timeline

September 2, 2020: Following a initial interview with WisdenExternal link, ESPN Cricinfo publishes an article with RafiqExternal link in which he claims that “institutional racism” at the Yorkshire County Cricket Club left him on the brink of taking his life.

September 3, 2020: Yorkshire says have launched a “formal investigation” into the claims made by Rafiq and President Roger Hutton says the club will undertake a “broader review” of its “policies and culture”

September 5, 2020: Yorkshire ask an independent law firm to investigate allegations of racism against the club by Rafiq.

November 13, 2020: Rafiq says he hopes to make a “significant change” after giving his first statement to the investigation.

December 15, 2020: Rafiq files a legal claim against Yorkshire “alleging direct discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, as well as victimization and prejudice as a result of trying to address racism at the club.”

February 2, 2021: Yorkshire threatens a lifetime ban for anyone who has made threats against Rafiq or his family and legal team, after ESPN Cricinfo showed them the messages sent to Rafiq’s law firm.

June 17, 2021: A case before a labor court between Rafiq and his former Yorkshire club does not find a solution. The independent investigation into his accusations of racism is ongoing.

August 16, 2021: Yorkshire receives the finds from an independent investigation into the racism allegations and, two days later, the Cricket Board of England and Wales (ECB) ask for a copy.

August 19, 2021: Yorkshire has yet to release the report’s findings at this stage, to admit Rafiq was “the victim of inappropriate behavior” and offered his “deep apologies”.

Rafiq accuses Yorkshire of downplaying racism calling him a victim of “inappropriate behavior”.

September 8, 2021: MPs tell Yorkshire publish the findings of the report “immediately”.

September 10, 2021: Yorkshire publishes the report’s findings, which says that Rafiq was “a victim of racial harassment and intimidation” and seven of the 43 allegations made by the player were confirmed by an independent panel.

According to Hutton, the report said there was “insufficient evidence to conclude that the Yorkshire County Cricket Club is institutionally racist.”

Yorkshire released a summary of the report and the panel’s recommendations, but said the full report could not be published for legal reasons “in relation to privacy law and defamation.”

October 8, 2021: Yorkshire misses a deadline send the full report to Rafiq and his legal team after BBC Sport learned that an employment judge ordered the club to publish it in full before Friday 8 October.

October 13, 2021: Rafiq then receives a heavily redacted version, while the ECB says it is still waiting for the full report.

October 28, 2021: Yorkshire says it conducted its own internal investigation after the report’s findings. and concluded that “there is no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives that justifies disciplinary action.”

November 2, 2021: The select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport asks Hutton to appear before it to answer questions about Yorkshire’s handling of a report on Rafiq’s accusations of racism.

MP Knight, Chair of the DCMS Select Committee, calls on the Yorkshire County Cricket Club Board of Directors to resign after a leaked report emerges that apparently contains details of the investigation into Rafiq’s treatment.

A story published by ESPN says the report had concluded that a racially offensive term used toward Rafiq was considered a “joke.”

Knight makes his comments after Health Secretary Javid called for “heads to roll” in Yorkshire and said that if the ECB did not take action “it is not fit for purpose”. He further states in a Twitter post that the term allegedly used to describe Rafiq was “no joke.”

The ECB announces that it will carry out a “full” investigation into the situation.

November 3, 2021: The DCMS hearing date is scheduled for November 16 and Rafiq is called to testify in person, together with senior Yorkshire officials.

Various sponsors, including title sponsor Emerald Publishing and Yorkshire Tea, end their associations with the Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Ballance releases a lengthy statement expressing regret for using a racial slur against former Yorkshire teammate Rafiq.

November 4, 2021: The ECB board suspends Yorkshire from hosting international matches.

Kit supplier Nike ends the four-year contract, announced in March 2021.


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