ECB bars Yorkshire from hosting international matches: Here's why
In a major development, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has barred Yorkshire from hosting international fixtures and other major cricket matches. The ECB questioned the club's "governance and management" of racism allegations from their former player Azeem Rafiq. Notably, the famous cricket club was due to host several matches, including the knockout fixtures of the Hundred. Here are further details.
Rafiq, a former Yorkshire player, made a number of allegations relating to racist abuse, bullying and harassment, earlier this year. The 29-year-old claimed that he even contemplated suicide due to racism. Rafiq said his reports were ignored by Yorkshire at the time. In an independent report, it was found that Rafiq had been subject to "racial harassment and bullying".
As per the independent investigation into Rafiq's claims, a senior player had repeatedly called Rafiq "P***". Thereafter, Gary Ballance released a statement, which confirmed that he was the aforementioned player. "I deeply regret some of the language I used in my younger years. Given my incredibly close relationship with Rafa, I am saddened that it has come to this," Ballance said in the statement.
Yorkshire initially confirmed that no disciplinary action will be taken against any of their players or staff. Thereafter, quite a few sponsors terminated ties with the club, including Headingley's title sponsors, Emerald Group Publishing. Meanwhile, Ballance has been suspended from international cricket indefinitely.
On Friday, Yorkshire Chairman Roger Hutton resigned with immediate effect. He "apologized unreservedly" for the club's handling of Rafiq's allegations of racism. He also criticized the ECB and Yorkshire's executives who according to him lacked "care and contrition". "For much of my time at the club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge," he said in his statement.
- The ECB has been vocal against racial abuse in recent times. Rafiq's case is a testament to this fact.
- Of late, several cases related to racism have brewed within England cricket.
- England pacer Ollie Robinson was suspended from international cricket in June after his old tweets were deemed "racist" and "sexist" in nature.
- The cricket board has maintained a zero-tolerance policy toward racism.
Yorkshire were scheduled to host several high-profile matches. They were due to host the third Test against New Zealand at Headingley in June next year. The club would have hosted an ODI against South Africa as well. Furthermore, Yorkshire were also scheduled to host an Ashes Test in 2023. Notably, Northern Superchargers were supposed to have Yorkshire as the host venue for the Hundred.