Azeem Rafiq: Nike pulls out of Yorkshire in wake of racism claims

Nike will no longer be the kit supplier for Yorkshire CCC following its handling of Azeem Rafiq's racism claims.

In a statement seen by ITV News they said:

It comes as Harrogate Spring Water became the latest to announce they were terminating their contract with the club.

They follow Emerald Group Publishing, primary commercial partners who held naming rights to Headingley Stadium, Yorkshire Tea and shirt sponsors Anchor Butter.

Azeem Rafiq said he was driven to tears from racial abuse he suffered while playing at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Credit: PA Images

It comes as former England cricketer Gary Ballance admitted levelling a racial slur at his Yorkshire County Cricket Club teammate Azeem Rafiq.

Ballance, who played 23 Tests and 16 one-day internationals between 2013-2017, released a long and emotional statement on Wednesday during which he accepted he was responsible for some of the offensive and derogatory terms that Rafiq revealed he was subjected to while at Headingley.

Ballance played 23 Tests and 16 one-day internationals between 2013-2017. Credit: PA Images

The 31-year-old attempted to offer some context of his “incredibly close relationship” with Rafiq during their time together at the club, claiming both men “said things privately to each other which were not acceptable” but made it clear he had remorse for his part in those exchanges.

Rafiq's allegations against the club have been in the public domain for more than a year, but recent reports that a racial slur was dismissed as "friendly banter" has ramped up pressure for the club to respond.

His representatives said he wouldn't be issuing a formal statement in response to Ballance, but Rafiq tweeted saying: "I wanted to stress this is not really about the words of certain individuals. This is about institutional racism and abject failures to act by numerous leaders at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and in the wider game. The sport I love and my club desperately need reform and cultural change."

Yorkshire County Cricket Club are yet to respond, but in September Roger Hutton, Chair of Yorkshire CCC, said: "There is no question that Azeem Rafiq, during his first spell as a player at YCCC, was the victim of racial harassment.

"He was also subsequently the victim of bullying. On behalf of all at YCCC, I wish to extend my sincere, profound and unreserved apologies to Azeem and to his family."