Cross-party group of MPs calls for new investigation in wake of revelations
The damaging revelations have now persuaded one of Yorkshire’s senior sponsors, Emerald Group, to end their four-year naming-rights deal at Headingley.
“We have today taken the decision to remove our brand association with Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Headingley Stadium,” read a press release.
“We do not tolerate any form of racism or discriminatory behaviour and the damaging effects this has. Our intention remains to continue a financial commitment to the stadium itself, which is also the home of Leeds Rhinos rugby, as we believe this supports the aims of diversity and inclusion in sport along with a range of charitable community endeavours.
“Emerald will however no longer sponsor Yorkshire County Cricket Club. We hope that YCCC will listen and respond with serious action to eradicate racism from the club and uphold the values we all expect.”
The political pressure on Yorkshire has also been ramped up in an open letter, signed by a cross-party group of 34 local politicians, including the mayors of South and West Yorkshire, Dan Jarvis and Tracy Brabin.
“The disgraceful treatment of Azeem Rafiq has brought Yorkshire County Cricket Club into disrepute,” wrote Jarvis, who is also the MP for Barnsley Central. “It’s appalling that anyone has to suffer racist abuse in the workplace, and then for that abuse to be repeatedly dismissed as ‘banter’ is utterly unacceptable.
“The English Cricket Board needs to act urgently to rectify these failures, eradicate the scourge of racism from cricket and restore the reputation of cricket in Yorkshire.
“Azeem Rafiq has been courageous in speaking out and has my full support. There is no place for racism anywhere.”
Brabin added: “As a county, we often celebrate our strong sporting heritage and love for cricket, however this has shamed Yorkshire Country Cricket Club and I know our communities will stand shoulder to shoulder with Azeem and be utterly embarrassed.
“Inquiries by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the English Cricket Board are welcome, but they should not have been needed.”