Cricket South Africa has hit the nadir with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) asking its office-bearers to step aside. However, it doesn’t impact the participation of South African players in the Indian Premier League.
Why was Cricket South Africa’s board and executive asked to step aside?
SASCOC acting chief executive Ravi Govender told Reuters that the radical step was taken to remove the negativity and governance issues around CSA, “so that in future they can be more effective and efficient in their mandate.”
Ever since Chris Nenzani took over as board president, there has been administrative chaos and financial instability. He was allegedly dictatorial, a reason CSA has had four CEOs in the last three years (Haroon Lorgat, Thabang Moroe, Jacques Faul and Kugandrie Govender). Daily Maverick had reported that there was no financial accountability, Nenzani’s leadership was causing racial divisions in the squad and leadership collapse. “CSA is not only culpable when it comes to financial mismanagement, which affects all aspects of the business, but Nenzani apparently drove a wedge between CSA and players,” a report read.
The website iol.co.za wrote: “Graeme Smith, appointed as the full-time Director of Cricket, described a “cancer” within the organisation when describing its administrative leadership, something Nenzani must bear a lot of responsibility for.” His dispensation fell out with players, sponsors, and the players’ organisation. The board also failed to launch its ambitious T20 Global League. Under mounting pressure, the president had to resign a few weeks ago, before completing his term.
Last week, 30 leading players from the men’s and women’s national teams signed an acerbic letter criticising the board for postponing CSA’s annual general meeting that had been scheduled for September 5. The SASCOC felt it was time to stop the rot.
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So, who is administering cricket in the country?
At the present moment, it’s still the CSA. But their hands will be tied once the SASCOC sets up a task force, which has conducted a “positive meeting. “The meeting presented a step forward towards a collaborative approach in the interest of good governance and executive operations,” CSA said in a statement on Tuesday.
That they would constitute the inquest probe without consulting or seeking advice from the CSA members’ council is a clear instance of isolating and alienating the board.
“The SASCOC Board… resolved that in order for it to facilitate the work of the task team, the CSA Board and those senior executives who serve ex-officio on the board are directed to step aside from the administration of CSA on full pay pending the outcome of the task team’s investigation,” SASCOC said in its letter.
It also explained the reasons for the inquest. “There has been a tremendous amount of negativity publicity relating to the administration of cricket in South Africa and in particular various concerns having been raised with regard to the functionality of the board and senior management of cricket,” the order read.
“We do not agree with SASCOC’s reasons for interventions and we will continue to engage with them as we do with our other major stakeholders such as the ICC, our players and our sponsors. There is no takeover, no task team and no directive from the Government in this regard. CSA is committed to resolving the matter with SASCOC as soon as possible so that our relationship with them is stabilised to make sure the game of cricket is protected as well as the interests of our sponsors, partners, players, staff and broader stakeholders,” Cricket South Africa said in a statement.
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What will be ICC’s stance? Will it continue to recognise CSA or uphold SASCOC’s decision?
The ICC, so far, has not taken any stand. However, Article 2.4 of the ICC constitution explains that: “The Member must manage its affairs autonomously and ensure that there is no government (or other public or quasi-public body) interference in its governance, regulation and/or administration of Cricket in its Cricket Playing Country (including in operational matters, in the selection and management of teams, and in the appointment of coaches or support personnel).”
However, given the seriousness of the charges, the ICC might look deeper into the crisis and not go merely by the manual. It means, technically, that CSA is still the official governing body of South African cricket, according to the ICC manual. If ICC de-recognises the board, as it did during the peak of the apartheid era, it would stand suspended.
“CSA remains a full member of the ICC in good standing and its Board and executive management will continue to ensure that it fulfils its mandate of promoting the game not only in South Africa but throughout the continent with the African Cricket Union’s headquarters operating from our own headquarters in Johannesburg. It is worth putting on record that CSA has once again had a clean, unqualified audit and has recorded a profit for the past year in spite of a budgeted deficit. It has also secured three mainline sponsorships at a time when the financial world is under immense stress,” the CSA said in a statement.
Can government interference lead to an international ban?
Yes. In 2019, ICC suspended South Africa’s neighbour Zimbabwe for not being able to keep “the sport free from political interference”.
In other sports, too, it is a common practice. One of the key principles of the Olympic Charter is that the national federations “must preserve their autonomy” and “resist” political pressures. In 2012, the International Olympic Committee suspended India for what was perceived by them as government interference in the running of the country’s sports bodies. FIFA, too, has similar rules.
What happens in case of suspension?
A suspended country cannot compete in international events and its funding is halted. For instance, the ICC froze Zimbabwe’s funding when it suspended them last year, and also banned the country’s teams from international events.
If the ICC bans South Africa, can their players participate in the IPL?
An IPL contract is usually a tripartite agreement between the player and the two boards – one being the BCCI and the other the player’s home board. So as with Zimbabwe back during the Robert Mugabe regime, South Africa could engage in bilateral series that are not ICC-affiliated events. So, IPL being a BCCI-regulated tournament, the participation of South African players would not be hampered unless, of course, the BCCI decides against it, which is very unlikely.
An ICC official said: “CSA will have the final say in their cricketers playing in the IPL. ICC will have no objection as IPL is a domestic tournament.”
How are the players responding to it?
Former England captain Kevin Pietersen was shocked, though empathetic. “Goodness me! What’s happening to cricket in SA is catastrophic. I feel so sorry for the many amazing people that work in that organisation and to all the players that are suffering at the hands of this disaster. Sport unites SA! This horror show is finishing cricket.”
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