National & International Sport

Yorkshire has been barred from hosting England matches

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Yorkshire have been suspended from hosting England matches as the England and Wales Cricket Board delivered a devastating rebuke over the club’s response to racism experienced by former player Azeem Rafiq, according to the BBC.

An investigation found Rafiq was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying” – but the club said it would take no disciplinary action.

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

It added it is “clear” Yorkshire’s handling of the issue is “wholly unacceptable and is causing serious damage to the reputation of the game”.

A statement said: “Given recent events, 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 represent a significant breach of its obligations to the game.”

Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance, who has admitted using racist language towards ex-team-mate Rafiq, has been suspended indefinitely from England selection.

Julian Knight MP, who called for the Yorkshire board to resign this week and is chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.

Said he hoped the sanctions handed down by the ECB would “act as a short, sharp shock to bring the club to its senses”.

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

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

The fallout from Yorkshire’s response to the racism report intensified on Monday when ESPN Cricinfo reported a racist term about Rafiq’s Pakistani heritage was regularly used towards him.

But the investigation concluded it was “friendly and good-natured banter”.

Headingley is due to host a men’s Test against New Zealand and a men’s one-day international against South Africa in 2022.

The Leeds ground is also scheduled to host an Ashes Test against Australia in 2023.

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

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