Yorkshire lose major sponsors over Rafiq racism row
Yorkshire lose major sponsors over Rafiq racism row

LONDON, Nov 3, 2021 (AFP) – Yorkshire County Cricket Club on Wednesday lost its main ground sponsor amid an escalating racism row with former player Azeem Rafiq.

Publishing company Emerald ended their association with Yorkshire and their Headingley stadium in Leeds over the handling of a report that found Rafiq suffered “racial harassment and bullying” at the club.

The county offered Rafiq, 30, “profound and unreserved apologies” upon the report’s publication in September but last week said it would take no disciplinary action against any staff.

Website ESPNcricinfo on Monday claimed the investigation found a current Yorkshire player regularly used a racially abusive term to refer to Rafiq but deemed it to be “banter”.

The story has unleashed a wave of criticism against Yorkshire, drawing in senior British politicians and governing body the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

On a troubled day for the club, local brand Yorkshire Tea also ended its partnership “with immediate effect”, while other sponsors decided not to extend their deals.

“We do not tolerate any form of racism or discriminatory behaviour and the damaging effects this has,” an Emerald statement read.

“We hope YCCC will listen and respond with serious action to eradicate racism from the club and uphold the values we all expect.”

Yorkshire Tea said: “We wholeheartedly believe cricket should be a sport for everyone, but his (Rafiq’s) 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.”

Rafiq, Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton and the county’s chief executive and director of cricket have been summoned to testify before a British parliamentary committee on November 16.

British health minister Sajid Javid, who is of Pakistani ancestry, on Tuesday tweeted “heads should roll” at Yorkshire for their inaction and called on the ECB to intervene.

Committee chair Julian Knight has said Yorkshire’s board should quit over “endemic racism” and called the row “one of the most repellent and disturbing episodes in modern cricket history”.

‘Full truth’

Pakistan-born off-spinner Rafiq, who represented Yorkshire in two spells between 2008 and 2018, made 43 allegations and said he had been driven to suicidal thoughts by his treatment at the club.

Yorkshire’s redacted report upheld seven of his claims but concluded the club was not institutionally racist.

“No one believed me, no one listened everyone tried to protect themselves and left me all alone to fight,” Rafiq tweeted this week. “TIME FOR THE FULL TRUTH.”

English cricket has recently come under greater pressure to improve racial equality and diversity.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison last year said the Black Lives Matter movement had forced cricket to confront “uncomfortable truths” about equality and diversity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.