The sportswear brand Nike has now become the newest major sponsor to disrupt their deal with Yorkshire, as the club’s crisis worsens in the aftermath of the Azeem Rafiq racism investigation.
The deal had covered both club’s men’s and women’s teams across all the formats and was for four years.
In a statement given to the sources, the sports brand said, “Nike will no longer be the kit supplier for Yorkshire CCC. We stand firmly against racism and discrimination of any kind.”
The move from Nike came after the Yorkshire player Gary Balance confirmed that he was the one who initiated using racism slur against former teammate Azeem Rafiq.
In a statement, the ex-England batter said, “He deeply regretted his choice of words, but insisted that Rafiq had been his “closest friend and supporter in cricket”.
“To be clear – I deeply regret some of the languages I used in my younger years. The independent enquiry, having heard all of the evidence, accepted that the context of some of the language used was in a ‘friendly verbal attack’ between friends which was not intended to offend or hurt and that no malice was intended. Given my incredibly close relationship with Rafa over the years, I am saddened that it has come to this.”
“I do not wish to discredit Rafa by repeating the words and statements that he made about me and others but I have to be clear that this was a situation where best friends said offensive things to each other which, outside of that context, would be considered wholly inappropriate. I regret that these exchanges took place but at no time did I believe or understand that it had caused Rafa distress. If I had believed that then I would have stopped immediately. He was my best mate in cricket and I cared deeply for him,” said Ballance.
According to sources, the Emerald Group (title sponsor for Headingly stadium) and Yorkshire Tea also have shattered their ties with Yorkshire CCC.