Israel February 19, 2009

Israeli tennis issue serves as warning to ICC

At the moment the row is limited to tennis, but Dubai's refusal to allow Israeli player Shahar Peer a visa to play in the Dubai WTA event should serve as a warning to the ICC, who moved its headquarters to the UAE in 2005
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At the moment the row is limited to tennis, but Dubai's refusal to allow Israeli player Shahar Peer a visa to play in the Dubai WTA event should serve as a warning to the ICC, who moved its headquarters to the UAE in 2005. The UAE refuses to recognise Israel and blocks entry to any passport holders from that country.

While Israel are not a major force in the cricket world, they are Associate members. What's more, the ICC and the local authorities have invested huge sums in building state-of-the-art cricket grounds at the Dubai Sports City, and these are due to come into use later this year. The venue will also host the global cricket academy.

It seems likely that the ICC will look to play its more high-profile events at its base, and these would probably include the important Associate events. That would mean that it may face having to relocate tournaments if Israel qualified for them, leading to some serious logistical headaches.

The WTA, which governs women's tennis, are likely to cancel the Dubai event, and the state's aggressive bid to attract major sporting events could stall unless there is some change of policy.

There is a loophole. Israelis with a second passport can enter the country , and for several years Stanley Perlman, Israel's representative to the ICC and a member of its executive board, was able to attend meetings by virtue of his possessing a South African passport as well.

Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Spinghar safi on February 24, 2009, 14:43 GMT

    Man Israel is years away from playing even in WCL Division 5! these issues might be solved till they learn how to play cricket !!

  • Shashi on February 20, 2009, 10:47 GMT

    Let us stop debating about Israel and its foreign policy. Focus on the issue at hand:

    Q)Was Dubai right in Refusing Shahar Peer a Passport? Ans: The made a mistake and WTA is right i withdrawing the WTA event from Dubai.

    Q) Does Dubai has cricket following ?? Ans: No it does not have, but y in the hell did ICC choose Dubai as its headquarters.Note that Dubai was the source of Match Fixing Scandals and home to people who enable it even today.

    Q) Is not ICC answerable to cricket's followers? Ans: Yes they absolutely are, but the fact is that whatever decision the ICC takes is against the interest & well being of the Game(like moving its headquarters to Dubai, like choosing it as a major venue for Associate tournaments)

  • Cow Boy Dreamer on February 20, 2009, 9:47 GMT

    I agree with Rahul. It’s the ICC that needs looking at. They moved to the UAE to save tax and are happy to take the local money to help build stadiums, but, like in Zimbabwe, they are happy to ignore abuses that stare them in the face. Check out this huma rights assessment.

    “The UAE does not have democratically elected institutions; citizens do not have the right to change their government or political parties. In certain instances, the government of the UAE has abused people in custody, denied their citizens the right to a speedy trial and access to counsel during official investigations. The government restricts freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and the media avoids directly criticizing the government and censors its own news stories. Freedom of association, and freedom of religion are also curtailed. The trafficking of children for camel jockeys continues despite government pledges to end these practices.”

  • rahul on February 20, 2009, 9:20 GMT

    What everyone is missing in the ICC angle. They have repeatedly got on the high moral ground about Peter Chingoka and insisted that he be allowed in by various governments because nobdoy has the right to ban one of their representatives, even thought those governments have evidence he is linked to Robert Mugabe.

    And yet the same icc have set up home in Dubai in the full knowledge that it bans people from other countries simply because of where they were born.

  • robert on February 20, 2009, 9:12 GMT

    Hugo - it's completely different from England not touring Zimbabwe. That is a choice of a team representing a country not to visit another country where there is a fundamental disagreement with the regime there. This is UAE banning someone who happens to come from a country, so the comparison would only work if the UK banned Ray Price from going there because he happened to be Zimbabwean.

    The double standards of the UAE can be seen by the fact they allow people in who have two passports, even though they are fully aware that they are every bit as Israeli as someone with one.

  • Marcus on February 20, 2009, 4:52 GMT

    The UAE should be ashamed of itself. Even the Nazis let Jesse Owens run in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. If they get away with this, then what's next? Prevent the Williams sisters from playing tennis out of protest for the Iraq War? Ban the Chinese from entering the London Olympics because the British Government doesn't approve of China's treatment of Tibet? Call me naive, but I believe that politics and sport should never mix because not all countries are ever going to agree on politics, and sport should really be about bringing people together, despite their differences.

  • hugo on February 20, 2009, 1:46 GMT

    How is it any different from England not touring Zimbabwe?

  • safwan on February 20, 2009, 0:39 GMT

    as you sow, so shall you reap.....any self-concious human being with the slightest hint of righteousness would do exactly what officials in Dubai did! i agree with james with regards to what happened to RSA, although the painful scars of Israel's brutal attacks will never be forgotten.... what value does sport have anyway in matters of life and death??

  • Oliver Chettle on February 20, 2009, 0:28 GMT

    What Dubai is doing is an Arab equivalent of the sporting boycott of South Africa: Zionism has treated Palestinians even worse than Apartheid South Africa treated blacks. Thus it is hypocritical for liberal Westerners to be outraged, unless they also consider the Gleneagles Agreement to have been an illegitimate mixing of sport and politics. Sporting boycotts based on repugnance with a political regime are either legitimate or they are not. There are strong arguments both ways, but if the boycott of Apartheid was legitimate, so is the Arab boycott of Israel. Which is it, liberals? You can't have it both ways.

  • Dreamer on February 20, 2009, 0:12 GMT

    Back in the days of apartheid, South Africa were rightly banished from the cricket world. The current Israeli brutality has been described as apartheid by no other than Bishop Desmund Tutu of South Africa, one of the renowned leaders who fought against apartheid. In 2002, he said "the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about". Similar sentiments have been echoed by the likes of President Carter and many leading human rights organizations. The onus of this debate should actually be on Israel, not Dubai or any other country. If Israel continues its atrocities against Palestinians, continues its regular massacres and suffocates their everyday life in this modern apartheid, then it should certainly be banished from the cricketing world, that is the least we can do to morally absolve the sport, the administration and the fans from being complicit and silent about the abuse of innocents.

  • Spinghar safi on February 24, 2009, 14:43 GMT

    Man Israel is years away from playing even in WCL Division 5! these issues might be solved till they learn how to play cricket !!

  • Shashi on February 20, 2009, 10:47 GMT

    Let us stop debating about Israel and its foreign policy. Focus on the issue at hand:

    Q)Was Dubai right in Refusing Shahar Peer a Passport? Ans: The made a mistake and WTA is right i withdrawing the WTA event from Dubai.

    Q) Does Dubai has cricket following ?? Ans: No it does not have, but y in the hell did ICC choose Dubai as its headquarters.Note that Dubai was the source of Match Fixing Scandals and home to people who enable it even today.

    Q) Is not ICC answerable to cricket's followers? Ans: Yes they absolutely are, but the fact is that whatever decision the ICC takes is against the interest & well being of the Game(like moving its headquarters to Dubai, like choosing it as a major venue for Associate tournaments)

  • Cow Boy Dreamer on February 20, 2009, 9:47 GMT

    I agree with Rahul. It’s the ICC that needs looking at. They moved to the UAE to save tax and are happy to take the local money to help build stadiums, but, like in Zimbabwe, they are happy to ignore abuses that stare them in the face. Check out this huma rights assessment.

    “The UAE does not have democratically elected institutions; citizens do not have the right to change their government or political parties. In certain instances, the government of the UAE has abused people in custody, denied their citizens the right to a speedy trial and access to counsel during official investigations. The government restricts freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and the media avoids directly criticizing the government and censors its own news stories. Freedom of association, and freedom of religion are also curtailed. The trafficking of children for camel jockeys continues despite government pledges to end these practices.”

  • rahul on February 20, 2009, 9:20 GMT

    What everyone is missing in the ICC angle. They have repeatedly got on the high moral ground about Peter Chingoka and insisted that he be allowed in by various governments because nobdoy has the right to ban one of their representatives, even thought those governments have evidence he is linked to Robert Mugabe.

    And yet the same icc have set up home in Dubai in the full knowledge that it bans people from other countries simply because of where they were born.

  • robert on February 20, 2009, 9:12 GMT

    Hugo - it's completely different from England not touring Zimbabwe. That is a choice of a team representing a country not to visit another country where there is a fundamental disagreement with the regime there. This is UAE banning someone who happens to come from a country, so the comparison would only work if the UK banned Ray Price from going there because he happened to be Zimbabwean.

    The double standards of the UAE can be seen by the fact they allow people in who have two passports, even though they are fully aware that they are every bit as Israeli as someone with one.

  • Marcus on February 20, 2009, 4:52 GMT

    The UAE should be ashamed of itself. Even the Nazis let Jesse Owens run in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. If they get away with this, then what's next? Prevent the Williams sisters from playing tennis out of protest for the Iraq War? Ban the Chinese from entering the London Olympics because the British Government doesn't approve of China's treatment of Tibet? Call me naive, but I believe that politics and sport should never mix because not all countries are ever going to agree on politics, and sport should really be about bringing people together, despite their differences.

  • hugo on February 20, 2009, 1:46 GMT

    How is it any different from England not touring Zimbabwe?

  • safwan on February 20, 2009, 0:39 GMT

    as you sow, so shall you reap.....any self-concious human being with the slightest hint of righteousness would do exactly what officials in Dubai did! i agree with james with regards to what happened to RSA, although the painful scars of Israel's brutal attacks will never be forgotten.... what value does sport have anyway in matters of life and death??

  • Oliver Chettle on February 20, 2009, 0:28 GMT

    What Dubai is doing is an Arab equivalent of the sporting boycott of South Africa: Zionism has treated Palestinians even worse than Apartheid South Africa treated blacks. Thus it is hypocritical for liberal Westerners to be outraged, unless they also consider the Gleneagles Agreement to have been an illegitimate mixing of sport and politics. Sporting boycotts based on repugnance with a political regime are either legitimate or they are not. There are strong arguments both ways, but if the boycott of Apartheid was legitimate, so is the Arab boycott of Israel. Which is it, liberals? You can't have it both ways.

  • Dreamer on February 20, 2009, 0:12 GMT

    Back in the days of apartheid, South Africa were rightly banished from the cricket world. The current Israeli brutality has been described as apartheid by no other than Bishop Desmund Tutu of South Africa, one of the renowned leaders who fought against apartheid. In 2002, he said "the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about". Similar sentiments have been echoed by the likes of President Carter and many leading human rights organizations. The onus of this debate should actually be on Israel, not Dubai or any other country. If Israel continues its atrocities against Palestinians, continues its regular massacres and suffocates their everyday life in this modern apartheid, then it should certainly be banished from the cricketing world, that is the least we can do to morally absolve the sport, the administration and the fans from being complicit and silent about the abuse of innocents.

  • Raghav on February 20, 2009, 0:01 GMT

    I don't think ICC is in any major trouble over here. Almost every country in the world has a political stance. For example, England/Australia might not allow the head of Zimbabwe Cricket Union to enter their country. Similarly, India/Pakistan are always imposing temporary travel restrictions on each other. If the ICC were to start caring about all these things, they might have to move to Switzerland!!!

  • Robin Graham on February 19, 2009, 23:40 GMT

    Spot on James! What about all the nationalities Israel bans from 'Israel'?

    If anyone is in the wrong here it is the Israeli government. They should realise what is happening to its citizens is a direct result of their aggressive foreign policy.

  • David on February 19, 2009, 23:34 GMT

    James, you've missed the point. The UAE's stance is NOT a "backlash" response to recent events in Israel, but is a principled stance that they refuse to acknowledge the existence of Israel at all. Regardless of the rightness or wrongness of the Israeli government's recent actions, if (as most of the world does) we think Israel has a right to exist, then actions like those of the WTA (ie, cancelling all events in the UAE) are necessary for the integrity of sport.

  • James on February 19, 2009, 22:21 GMT

    Although I am not in favour of mixing sports and politics I think it is indeed the right action which has been taken. Remember RSA were put out in the cold and banned from cricket because of the actions of their government. Likewise The actions of Israel have produced backlash. Don't worry, because this is only temporary, everyone will forget Israels actions and all will be will for The ICC.

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  • James on February 19, 2009, 22:21 GMT

    Although I am not in favour of mixing sports and politics I think it is indeed the right action which has been taken. Remember RSA were put out in the cold and banned from cricket because of the actions of their government. Likewise The actions of Israel have produced backlash. Don't worry, because this is only temporary, everyone will forget Israels actions and all will be will for The ICC.

  • David on February 19, 2009, 23:34 GMT

    James, you've missed the point. The UAE's stance is NOT a "backlash" response to recent events in Israel, but is a principled stance that they refuse to acknowledge the existence of Israel at all. Regardless of the rightness or wrongness of the Israeli government's recent actions, if (as most of the world does) we think Israel has a right to exist, then actions like those of the WTA (ie, cancelling all events in the UAE) are necessary for the integrity of sport.

  • Robin Graham on February 19, 2009, 23:40 GMT

    Spot on James! What about all the nationalities Israel bans from 'Israel'?

    If anyone is in the wrong here it is the Israeli government. They should realise what is happening to its citizens is a direct result of their aggressive foreign policy.

  • Raghav on February 20, 2009, 0:01 GMT

    I don't think ICC is in any major trouble over here. Almost every country in the world has a political stance. For example, England/Australia might not allow the head of Zimbabwe Cricket Union to enter their country. Similarly, India/Pakistan are always imposing temporary travel restrictions on each other. If the ICC were to start caring about all these things, they might have to move to Switzerland!!!

  • Dreamer on February 20, 2009, 0:12 GMT

    Back in the days of apartheid, South Africa were rightly banished from the cricket world. The current Israeli brutality has been described as apartheid by no other than Bishop Desmund Tutu of South Africa, one of the renowned leaders who fought against apartheid. In 2002, he said "the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about". Similar sentiments have been echoed by the likes of President Carter and many leading human rights organizations. The onus of this debate should actually be on Israel, not Dubai or any other country. If Israel continues its atrocities against Palestinians, continues its regular massacres and suffocates their everyday life in this modern apartheid, then it should certainly be banished from the cricketing world, that is the least we can do to morally absolve the sport, the administration and the fans from being complicit and silent about the abuse of innocents.

  • Oliver Chettle on February 20, 2009, 0:28 GMT

    What Dubai is doing is an Arab equivalent of the sporting boycott of South Africa: Zionism has treated Palestinians even worse than Apartheid South Africa treated blacks. Thus it is hypocritical for liberal Westerners to be outraged, unless they also consider the Gleneagles Agreement to have been an illegitimate mixing of sport and politics. Sporting boycotts based on repugnance with a political regime are either legitimate or they are not. There are strong arguments both ways, but if the boycott of Apartheid was legitimate, so is the Arab boycott of Israel. Which is it, liberals? You can't have it both ways.

  • safwan on February 20, 2009, 0:39 GMT

    as you sow, so shall you reap.....any self-concious human being with the slightest hint of righteousness would do exactly what officials in Dubai did! i agree with james with regards to what happened to RSA, although the painful scars of Israel's brutal attacks will never be forgotten.... what value does sport have anyway in matters of life and death??

  • hugo on February 20, 2009, 1:46 GMT

    How is it any different from England not touring Zimbabwe?

  • Marcus on February 20, 2009, 4:52 GMT

    The UAE should be ashamed of itself. Even the Nazis let Jesse Owens run in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. If they get away with this, then what's next? Prevent the Williams sisters from playing tennis out of protest for the Iraq War? Ban the Chinese from entering the London Olympics because the British Government doesn't approve of China's treatment of Tibet? Call me naive, but I believe that politics and sport should never mix because not all countries are ever going to agree on politics, and sport should really be about bringing people together, despite their differences.

  • robert on February 20, 2009, 9:12 GMT

    Hugo - it's completely different from England not touring Zimbabwe. That is a choice of a team representing a country not to visit another country where there is a fundamental disagreement with the regime there. This is UAE banning someone who happens to come from a country, so the comparison would only work if the UK banned Ray Price from going there because he happened to be Zimbabwean.

    The double standards of the UAE can be seen by the fact they allow people in who have two passports, even though they are fully aware that they are every bit as Israeli as someone with one.