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Emerald withdraws from Headingley sponsorship over racism row

Headingley Stadium naming partner Emerald has removed its association with the famous venue over Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s handling of an internal investigation into racism within the club.

The publishing group said on Wednesday afternoon it will no longer sponsor Yorkshire, and has called upon the club to “respond with serious action to eradicate racism” following the release of details from a report concerning the treatment of former player Azeem Rafiq.

Emerald has held naming rights for Headingley since 2017, giving its name to Emerald Headingley Cricket Ground and Emerald Headingley Rugby Stadium. Emerald also has naming rights for the north-south stand, which has been known as the Emerald Stand since its completion in 2019.

The Yorkshire-headquartered company said it will continue to financially back the stadium and charity projects.

“We have today taken the decision to remove our brand association with Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Headingley Stadium,” Emerald said in a statement. “We do not tolerate any form of racism or discriminatory behaviour and the damaging effects this has.

“Our intention remains to continue a financial commitment to the stadium itself, which is also the home of Leeds Rhinos rugby, as we believe this supports the aims of diversity and inclusion in sport along with a range of charitable community endeavours. Emerald will however no longer sponsor Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

“We hope that YCCC will listen and respond with serious action to eradicate racism from the club and uphold the values we all expect.”

The move by Emerald follows the decision by Arla Foods not to renew its sponsorship of the county’s 50-over team.

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