Yorkshire banned from hosting England matches in wake of ‘abhorrent’ racism scandal

Yorkshire County Cricket Club have been banned from hosting England matches in the wake of the racism scandal engulfing the club, the ECB has confirmed.

Yorkshire’s handling of an investigation into allegations from former player Azeem Rafiq has been heavily criticised within the sport and by politicians, with the club’s hierarchy having been called to appear before a parliamentary committee on 16 November.

The club have lost scores of sponsors over the affair, and have called an emergency board meeting for Friday to discuss the fallout.

On Wednesday night Gary Ballance admitted he had used racial slurs towards Rafiq when they were team-mates at Yorkshire.

Ballance claimed in a lengthy statement he had once enjoyed a deep friendship with Rafiq but that both men “said things privately to each other which were not acceptable” and offered remorse for his part of those exchanges.

The independent panel which looked at 43 allegations in total from Rafiq determined those racial slurs from Ballance were delivered “in the spirit of friendly banter” and did not uphold that allegation – a conclusion which has caused a wave of condemnation from prominent politicians and campaign groups and kicked off an exodus of Yorkshire’s commercial partners.

And now the ECB have confirmed that the county will be suspended from hosting international and major matches, including The Hundred, “until it has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member and First Class County.”

A statement on Thursday read: “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 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.”

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