Yorkshire Cricket Club’s racist player and its hapless board are being urged to quit today as sponsors began abandoning them over its handling of the Azeem Rafiq race row after bosses said a teammate who reduced him to tears after repeatedly called him a ‘P*ki’ was just throwing around ‘friendly banter’.

Britain’s most popular county team is now under increasing political pressure. MPs summoned Roger Hutton, chairman, to face Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport panel over the club’s sloppy handling Rafiq’s complaint. 

DCMS committee chairman Julian Knight said of the unnamed racist cricketer: ‘Why has anyone who ever used the “p word” still in their job?’, adding: ‘Given the endemic racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, I struggle to think of any reason why that the board should remain in post. This is one of most disturbing and repellent episodes in modern cricket history.

Yesterday Health Secretary Sajid Javid called for the board to resign yesterday as he tweeted: ‘P*** is not banter. Yorkshire CCC needs to be heard. If the ECB does not take action, it isn’t fit for purpose. Boris Johnson’s spokesperson urged the England and Wales Cricket Board then to ‘investigate these thoroughly and rapidly’ and ‘take immediate action where necessary’.

Today Sportsmail can reveal that Yorkshire has already lost one of their main commercial partners and several other sponsors are demanding answers.

Arla Foods (the Danish food company that makes Anchor) said that they will no longer sponsor the county’s 50-over teams. Tetley’s brewery and Emerald Publishing, however, are still in contact with Yorkshire to discuss their involvement.

Anchor’s decision to walk away will increase the pressure on Yorkshire’s other sponsors to act following the revelation by ESPNcricinfo that the club took no disciplinary action against a current player who regularly called Rafiq a ‘P***’ according to the independent report commissioned by the county into the former spinner’s racism allegations.

The player is also said to have admitted telling other people ‘don’t talk to him (Rafiq), he’s a P**i’; asking ‘is that your uncle?’ When Asian men with bearded faces were present; and asking if his Dad owned those corner shops. 

Yorkshire have lost one of their main commercial partners over the club’s handling of the Azeem Rafiq race row

Chairman Roger Hutton is under pressure to resign and will now face Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee over the club's farcical handling of Rafiq's complaints

Yorkshire have lost one of their main commercial partners over the club’s handling of the Azeem Rafiq (left) race row. Roger Hutton, chairman, will now face Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport panel over the club’s shambolic handling of Rafiq’s claims.

It comes after Azeem Rafiq (pictured playing for Yorkshire in 2016) claimed he experienced racism during his stint at the Yorkshire County Cricket Club

It comes after Azeem Rajiq, pictured playing for Yorkshire in 2016, claimed that he experienced racism while working at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Headingley’s title sponsor is Emerald since 2017. Support for Tetley’s Leeds-based brewery goes back decades.

Emerald stated that they were dismayed by the conclusion reached by an independent panel that Azeem Rasiq, a former player, had suffered racial harassments, bullying, and that he was fired from the club. 

Britain was horrified by Yorkshire’s handling, with bosses accused trying to sweep racism under a rug.

The inquiry into Azeem Rafiq’s accusations of racism at Yorkshire cleared a player after concluding that regular use of the term ‘P**i’ came during ‘banter’ between the pair.

According to ESPNcricinfo, Yorkshire’s report — passed to the ECB for further investigation — cleared the individual of wrongdoing as it was perceived the comments were made in a friendly, good-natured manner. 

The investigation panel rejected the claim that the ex-England Under-19 captain was offended at the comments of the other player, at the time or later, even though he was seen clinging.

They stated that Rafiq might be ‘expected’ to respond to such comments in the manner they were intended, in the context ‘banter between friends’.

According to reports, Rafiq’s reference of a Zimbabwean team-mate as “Zimbo from Zimbabwe” was considered racist and derogatory by the panel. He said that if Rafiq had been at Yorkshire, he would have faced disciplinary actions.

Yorkshire stated that no disciplinary action would take place after Rafiq’s allegations were made public.

A club statement stated that the club had conducted an internal investigation and found no misconduct or actions by current employees, players, or executives that would warrant disciplinary action. 

“We acknowledge that we have to work hard to restore trust with those who feel letdown.

“There is much that the club can learn about the independent report, and we are committed incorporating the panel’s recommendations into our diversity & inclusion plans.”

A spokesperson for Arla Foods, the Danish food company who produce Anchor Butter, told Sportsmail that they will not renew their sponsorship of the county’s 50-over team

Sportsmail was told by a spokesperson from Arla Foods, a Danish food company that makes Anchor Butter, that they would no longer sponsor the county’s 50-over teams. 

Rafiq’s spokesperson stated that the announcement of no action was made on Thursday. This is despite Yorkshire’s admissions that Azeem was victim to racial harassment, bullying, and despite their admissions that they failed to follow their own policies and investigate claims of racism as recently 2018!

“It is impossible that there are not current employees who should have been disciplined.” It is time that board members — for once — did the decent thing and resigned.’

The September 10 redacted report stated that the panel didn’t consider Rafiq’s evidence to be credible. Rafiq and the participant engaged in friendly verbal attacks towards one another, and neither was malicious to the other’.

Rafiq’s disturbing story about his time at the club was first discovered more than a full year ago. However, recent developments captured the attention of senior Westminster officials on Tuesday with Javid’s strongly-worded intervention. This was following the announcement that Roger Hutton, Yorkshire chairman, will be called to address the parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport panel.

Yorkshire previously requested an independent report that determined that Rafiq was the victim of racism and bullying. Rafiq played in two matches for his county between 2008 and 2018. Although the club offered an apology, it stated that no further action would be taken against any of its employees.

ESPNcricinfo this week published alleged details of the report, including a senior player’s admission that he had repeatedly used the word ‘P***’ in reference to Rafiq, which was subsequently deemed to be ‘in the spirit of friendly banter’.

Javid, the first British Pakistani to head a government department in 2014, posted on Twitter: ‘P***’ is not banter. Yorkshire CCC should have heads. If @ECBcricket doesn’t take action, it’s not fit for purpose.

These words are a direct challenge to the game’s governing bodies, who have only recently received a complete copy of Rafiq’s report as part of their own ‘thorough’ investigation.

Responding to Javid’s comments, a spokesperson for No 10 stated that these are serious allegations that clearly had a significant impact on Azeem Rasiq. It is important that they are investigated thoroughly and swiftly.

We urge them to take the time to review this issue and take appropriate action. This language should not be used in any context or format.

Asked whether the word ‘P***’ could ever be used as ‘banter’, the spokesman added: ‘No, this is racist language and should not be used in any context whatsoever.’

In a statement, ECB expressed regret for the delay in resolving the matter and acknowledged the negative impact it had on Rafiq’s health and that of his family.

The ECB stated that it would conduct a complete regulatory process that is fair for all parties and ensure that it happens as quickly as possible.

“To achieve this, we have secured services of a QC along with other investigatory support to increase weight resource around our process. The ECB board has also reaffirmed their commitment to providing additional resources if necessary.

Hutton will now prepare to give evidence to DCMS select committee. This session could yield new revelations that were not previously published, and will be covered by parliamentary privilege.

Julian Knight, chair DCMS committee, demanded the resignations of Yorkshire’s board members over what he called “endemic racism” at the club.

Knight tweeted: “Given the endemic racism of Yorkshire County Cricket Club I struggle to see why that board should be removed.

“This is one the most disturbing episodes of modern cricket history.

YCCC needs to be more transparent. We plan to call the chair of the club in front of the DCMS Committee to get a more complete explanation than what we have received so far.

Nadine Dorries was secretary of state for DCMS. She posted: ‘Azeem Rasiq’s treatment following the racism he faced is disgusting. The investigation that followed only makes things worse. The @ECB Cricket investigation should be swift and transparent. Racism must not be dismissed as ‘banter’.

Julian Knight, the chairman of the select committee, said in a statement: 'This is extremely concerning and it's clear that Yorkshire County Cricket Club has questions to answer.'

Julian Knight, chairman of the select committee, stated in a statement that “This is extremely concerning” and that the Yorkshire County Cricket Club had questions to answer.

PA reached out to Yorkshire for comment, while Rafiq, the man at the heart of the matter, tweeted his response.

‘Over the last 14 months I have told both @PCA and @ECB-cricket that someone needs to show leadership & take this out of @YorkshireCCC hands. I was not believed, and no one listened. Everyone tried to protect themselves, but left me to fight alone. TIME FOR THE ENTIRE TRUTH,’ he wrote.

The Professional Cricketers Association stated to the PA news agency that it continues to discuss the issue with stakeholders. It also supports the ECB’s regulative process now that it has received the full report.

The developments in Rafiq’s case have also caught the attention of anti-racism organization HOPE Not Hate. Their chief executive Nick Lowles stated to PA: ‘In 2021 we have a right expect racism and intolerance be taken seriously. We cannot allow institutions to ignore these issues. We all have a role to play in refusing racial intolerance to be addressed and standing up against those who do not tackle racism.

‘Azeem Rafiq deserves justice. As with all sports, cricket unites people from many backgrounds. However, when institutions fail to protect and safeguard players from abuse, this can lead to a breakdown of the unity principle.

Commercially, Yorkshire is also feeling the pinch. Anchor, the sponsor of the county’s Royal London Cup kit, announced that it was ending its support. A tweet read: ‘There is no place or excuse for racism. We have no more activity supporting YCCC.

The Emerald publishing group, which is a primary sponsor of Headingley Stadium, has expressed its dismay at recent reports and expects to take further action.

PA received the following statement: “We take all matters relating to racism or discriminatory behavior seriously and expect all of our partners to uphold these values.”

“As Headingley’s sponsors, we are shocked by the conclusion reached by an independent panel that Azeem Rasiq, a former player, was subject to racial harassment, bullying, and discrimination during his time at the club.

“While the club has offered an unreserved apology and made many positive changes in the intervening decades, there is clearly still much more to be done.”