Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Ballance admits using racial terms against Azeem Rafiq. Gary Ballance has acknowledged that he was the one who used the offensive term "P**I"
Gary Ballance has acknowledged that he was the one who used the offensive term "P**I"
Gary Ballance, the Yorkshire and England batter, has acknowledged that he was the one who used the offensive term “P**I” to his former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq. Ballance noted that he “deeply regretted” the terms he used against the player while he also said that Rafiq was his “closest friend and supporter in cricket”.
Rafiq initially made allegations of racism against Yorkshire in August last year and an independent report commissioned by the club observed that he had suffered “racial harassment and bullying”. However, Yorkshire said that their own internal investigation had “come to the conclusion that there is no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives that warrants disciplinary action.”
Sajid Javid, the health secretary, has said that the P-word “is not banter” and “heads should roll” at Yorkshire. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the incident involving Rafiq and asked the England and Wales Cricket Board to look into the matter.
In a statement, Ballance wrote: “To be clear – I deeply regret some of the language I used in my younger years. The independent enquiry, having heard all of the evidence, accepted that the context of some of the language used was in a ‘friendly verbal attack' between friends which was not intended to offend or hurt and that no malice was intended. Given my incredibly close relationship with Rafa over the years I am saddened that it has come to this.
“Because we were such good friends and spent a lot of time together drinking and on nights out we both said things privately to each other which were not acceptable. It has been reported that I used a racial slur and, as I told the independent enquiry, I accept that I did so and I regret doing so.
“I do not wish to discredit Rafa by repeating the words and statements that he made about me and others but I have to be clear that this was a situation where best friends said offensive things to each other which, outside of that context, would be considered wholly inappropriate. I regret that these exchanges took place but at no time did I believe or understand that it had caused Rafa distress. If I had believed that then I would have stopped immediately. He was my best mate in cricket and I cared deeply for him,” said Ballance.
Meanwhile, Rafiq has been called up to provide evidence to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee, which is set to bring to light the complete details of his allegations of racism. Club chairman Roger Hutton, and two senior executives Mark Arthur and Martyn Moxon, are also set to provide evidence.
In a further setback for Yorkshire, major sponsors like Emerald Group (title sponsor for Headingley stadium) and Yorkshire Tea have snapped ties with the club. Anchor Butter, the shirt sponsors, also announced their decision to abandon the Yorkshire club.
“We have today taken the decision to remove our brand association with Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Headingley Stadium,” the Emerald Group said in a press release. “We do not tolerate any form of racism or discriminatory behaviour and the damaging effects this has.
“Our intention remains to continue a financial commitment to the stadium itself, which is also the home of Leeds Rhinos rugby, as we believe this supports the aims of diversity and inclusion in sport along with a range of charitable community endeavours. Emerald will however no longer sponsor Yorkshire County Cricket Club. We hope that YCCC will listen and respond with serious action to eradicate racism from the club and uphold the values we all expect.”
Yorkshire Tea also said in a statement that it is ending its association with the club with immediate effect. “We were upset to read about the experiences of Azeem Rafiq during his time at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. We wholeheartedly believe that cricket should be a sport for everyone, but his experiences and the way the panel report has been handled don't reflect that. Our current partnership with YCCC was naturally coming to an end but we have taken the decision to end it with immediate effect.”