Le Pays De France - Yorkshire regain right to host England matches after racism scandal

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Yorkshire regain right to host England matches after racism scandal
Yorkshire regain right to host England matches after racism scandal

Yorkshire regain right to host England matches after racism scandal

England cricket chiefs lifted a ban on Yorkshire staging international matches on Friday following the club's handling of a racism scandal that rocked the game.

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Former player Azeem Rafiq accused Yorkshire of failing to deal adequately with the abuse he suffered at the northern county, saying he had been driven to thoughts of suicide.

The club apologised to the Pakistan-born cricketer in September but subsequently said they would take no disciplinary action against any of their staff.

The fallout for Yorkshire was swift and devastating, with sponsors making a mass exodus and the club suspended from hosting lucrative international matches.

There has also been a mass clear-out at the club's Headingley headquarters in Leeds, with wholesale departures from the boardroom and coaching staff while a new chairman, Kamlesh Patel, has become the face of a fresh regime.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said in a statement on Friday that it had been impressed by the work done to change the culture of the club since the appointment of Patel in November.

But the governing body warned Yorkshire would only be able to host the third Test against New Zealand in June and July's one-day international against South Africa if further progress was made by the end of March.

This includes amendments to club rules relating to the appointment and operation of the board.

The ECB said Yorkshire had shown a "demonstrable commitment to building a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion" and had provided "evidence that it is adopting a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination".

"The board welcomed the hard work and actions taken by Yorkshire County Cricket Club," said ECB interim chairman Barry O'Brien.

"The board was mindful that the return of international cricket will support continued change and progress at the club," he added.

"I very much hope that the traumatic events that have taken place at Yorkshire over the past several months and years will act as a catalyst for increasing the pace of change throughout the game."

Rafiq backed the decision and said Yorkshire had already come a long way under Patel.

"His leadership has earned the club another chance, but the reforms must continue and we must see real change," he said.

Patel welcomed the restoration of international matches, saying Yorkshire had worked "night and day to bring about tangible change".

"I would like to thank the ECB for its support, and its robust challenge throughout the process," he said.

"It has been a difficult period for Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and there remains a lot of work to be done, but the level of scrutiny has pushed us towards implementing action which will not only transform this club but can lead the way forward for the sport as a whole."