Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - ECB suspend Yorkshire from hosting international or major matches. The ECB is unhappy with Yorkshire's handling of the allegations by Azeem Rafiq
The ECB is unhappy with Yorkshire's handling of the allegations by Azeem Rafiq
The ECB Board have suspended Yorkshire from hosting international and major matches in light of the county's handling of allegations of racism from their former player Azeem Rafiq. The Board said it will also consider financial and future major match allocation sanctions once the ECB's own investigations have concluded.
The ECB Board met on Thursday afternoon to discuss the ongoing situation which they described in a statement as “abhorrent and against the spirit of cricket and its values”. They said 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.”
Rafiq has made a number of allegations about his time at Yorkshire, including that he was subject to racist abuse, bullying and harassment. An independent report, commissioned by Yorkshire, found that Rafiq had been subject to “racial harassment and bullying”. However, the county subsequently confirmed that they would be taking no disciplinary action against any of its players or staff following its own internal review.
That is despite reports, first published by ESPN Cricinfo on Monday (November 1), that alleged the independent investigation into Rafiq's claims had reported that a senior player had repeatedly called Rafiq “P***”. Gary Ballance subsequently released a statement on Wednesday (November 3) confirming that he was the aforementioned player. “I deeply regret some of the language I used in my younger years,” Ballance said in the statement.
Since those reports emerged, pressure has mounted on Yorkshire over their handling of the allegations from MPs, including the UK Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, while numerous sponsors, including Nike, Yorkshire Tea and Emerald, Headingley's title sponsor, have terminated their agreements with the county over the past 24 hours. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport's committee has called Roger Hutton, Yorkshire's Chair, and Rafiq to give evidence later this month.
The ECB had already begun its own regulatory process having finally been sent the independent report by Yorkshire last week. But the developments over recent days prompted the Board to meet on Thursday and take immediate action, pending the outcome of their own investigations.
The regulatory process that is already underway into Rafiq's allegations will be determined by The Cricket Disciplinary Committee (CDC), an independent body, and release its findings in due course. Depending on the outcome of the CDC review, the ECB Board could decide to impose financial sanctions or remove Yorkshire's ability to apply for international matches in the next round of allocations.
In addition, the ECB announced that they were suspending Yorkshire from hosting England matches “until it has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member and First Class County”. Headingley is currently due to host a Test against New Zealand next year and an Ashes Test in 2023 which must now both be in doubt.
A review of Yorkshire's governance will also be commissioned by the ECB to consider whether the county's existing arrangements are fit for purpose. Although Ballance has not been selected for England since 2017, he has also been suspended indefinitely from England selection. That position will be reviewed following the ECB regulatory investigation into his conduct.
“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 statement read. “The ECB find this matter abhorrent and against the spirit of cricket and its values.
“There is no place for racism or any form of discrimination in cricket and where it is found, swift action must be taken. This matter must be dealt with robustly if the sport is to demonstrate its commitment to truly being a game for everyone.”
Aside from the immediate consequences of the ECB's actions, the long-term future of Yorkshire must also now be in doubt. With sponsors deserting them and the suspension of international matches at Headingley, the club's revenues will be taking a significant hit. The county's financial position could become even worse if the ECB decide to impose a financial penalty at the end of their own investigations.