Leeds Beckett University issues statement on Yorkshire County Cricket Club activities after Azeem Rafiq racism row

Leeds Beckett University has said it is “pausing all currently planned activity” with Yorkshire County Cricket Club amid the continuing fallout from the Azeem Rafiq racism row.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 6:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th November 2021, 6:44 pm

The decision follows widespread criticism of Yorkshire's handling of a report which found Mr Rafiq had been a victim of racial harassment and bullying while at the club and recent reports that the investigation had dismissed him repeatedly being subject to racial slurs as "banter".

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The club has said no disciplinary action against any employee is planned, while on Wednesday night current player Gary Ballance admitted he had used “a racial slur” towards Rafiq when they were team-mates at Yorkshire.

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More organisations have cut ties with Yorkshire County Cricket Club as the fallout from the Azeem Rafiq racism row continues. Picture: PA

A university spokesperson said in a statement: “Leeds Beckett University stands united against racism, and in our support for anyone who experiences racism.

“Although the issue is complex and we are not in possession of all the details, Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s public statements to date suggest that its approach to the handling of these accusations is inconsistent with our values and culture.

“The university is pausing all currently planned activity with YCCC with immediate effect. There is no current financial sponsorship arrangement between the university and the club, and the university logo has been removed from the club website at our request."

The spokesperson went on to say that the university's future relationship with the club would depend upon what emerges from the ECB review and "the evidence of meaningful change that the club commits to, to end racism."

They said: "If it can do this, as we are seeking to do ourselves, then we would hope we can work together on a partnership that plays a positive role in our community in the future.

“We will continue to maintain a dialogue with the club about its approach to this issue.”

Meanwhile, Nike has become the most high profile sponsor to cut its ties with the club.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the sportswear giant said: “Nike will no longer be the kit supplier for Yorkshire CCC. We stand firmly against racism and discrimination of any kind.”

Nike had signed a four-deal kit sponsorship deal with Yorkshire earlier this year.

Harrogate Spring Water also announced it was ending its partnership with the club, saying: “We were deeply concerned at the details that have emerged in recent days surrounding the treatment of Azeem Rafiq at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the way in which the club’s current leadership have handled the important issues that have been raised.”

It follows Headingley stadium sponsor Emerald Publishing cutting ties with the club, with similar decisions announced by Yorkshire Tea, David Lloyd Clubs, Tetley’s Beer and Anchor Butter.

Another is awaiting further information before making decisions on any future involvement.

A Sodexo spokesperson said: “As the hospitality partner for Headingley Stadium, we have written to the club on this very serious matter. We are keen to understand the steps they will be taking.”

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