Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan had denied allegations he had abused his one-time team-mate Azeem Rafiq. Image Credit:

London: Yorkshire were suspended from staging international matches after the England and Wales Cricket Board strongly condemned their handling of a racism row involving Azeem Rafiq, with ex-England captain Michael Vaughan later denying allegations he had abused his one-time team-mate.

The 30-year-old Rafiq has accused Yorkshire of failing to deal adequately with his allegations of racism when he played for the English county.

'Unreserved apologies'

In September, Yorkshire offered the Pakistan-born off-spinner “profound and unreserved apologies” in a report commissioned by the club.

But last week Yorkshire said they would take no disciplinary action against any staff, unleashing a wave of criticism and prompting sponsors, including Nike, to turn their backs on the club.

In an escalation, the ECB on Thursday called Yorkshire’s handling of the case “wholly unacceptable” and the matter “abhorrent”.

They stripped Headingley, Yorkshire’s headquarters in Leeds, of the right to stage a Test between England and New Zealand in June 2022, as well as a one-day international with South Africa in July.

“YCCC (Yorkshire County Cricket Club) are suspended from hosting international or major matches until it has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member and first-class county,” the ECB said.

Racial slur

Gary Ballance, who admitted using a racial slur against Rafiq during their time together at Yorkshire, would be “suspended indefinitely” from England selection pending an investigation, the ECB said.

It is four years since the Zimbabwe-born batter last played international cricket.

Rafiq tweeted that he would need “time to reflect” on the ECB’s intervention, having also alleged “institutional racism and abject failures by numerous leaders at Yorkshire”, as well as in the wider game.

“The sport I love and my club desperately need reform and cultural change,” he posted on Twitter.