Azeem Rafiq’s response after ECB throw the book at Yorkshire over racism scandal

Azeem Rafiq has responded to the news that the England Cricket Board has taken action against Yorkshire County Cricket Club for its botched handling of an investigation into racism against him.

The club announced it would be taking no further action against any current employees and, while a panel found Rafiq had been repeatedly called a 'P***' and accepted it amounted to harassment, it was dismissed simply as "friendly banter".

It caused outrage in the cricket world, and led to huge sponsors Emerald Publishing and Yorkshire Tea cutting ties with the club, as well as Nike.

Yorkshire CCC is likely to take further financial hits after the ECB announced the club has been suspended from staging any international or other major matches at Headingley Stadium.

That suspension covers Tests, ODIs, T20Is and The Hundred.

The ECB also announced the indefinite suspension of Gary Ballance, who on Wednesday admitted to using a racial slur directed against Rafiq, from selection for the national team.

"To be clear – I deeply regret some of the language I used in my younger years," Ballance said in a statement, which he said he had released in response to reports that he believes "give a misleading impression of the evidence which was heard in the investigation".

The ECB's strongly worded statement 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."

Rafiq took to social media after that statement had been released to say he had "noted" it, but wanted to mull it over before adding giving a more detailed response.

"I need a little time to reflect on what the ECB has said this evening and the actions they’re proposing to take," he said on Twitter.

"I will not be commenting further at this time."

Meanwhile, on Thursday evening, Nike announced it would join Emerald and Yorkshire Tea in cutting ties with Yorkshire CCC.

"Nike will no longer be the kit supplier for Yorkshire CCC. We stand firmly against racism and discrimination of any kind," the sportswear giant said.

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