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ICC reviewing stance against government interference

Mohammad Isam in Mirpur

November 17, 2012

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Alan Isaac fields questions from the media, Dubai, February 1, 2012
Alan Isaac said the ICC was reflecting on its anti-government position © Getty Images
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The ICC is reviewing its stance against government involvement in the administration of cricket in its Members, the ICC president Alan Isaac has said. Removal of government interference had been one of the Woolf report recommendations approved by the ICC but Isaac said it had recognised the role governments played in developing cricket in several countries and is rethinking its position.

"In the ICC annual conference, we made some changes and introduced some onerous penalties if they [issues related to government interference] are not complied with," Isaac said in Dhaka. "In the last meeting, we discussed the issues and the realities are we need to reflect on perhaps the draconian nature of some of those requirements.

"In this part of the world and lots of other countries, quite honestly, cricket and other sports depend on the government. We are having a little bit of post-change review. I am not making any comment about what those changes might result to, but I think we are having a period of reflection."

The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is one of those bodies that has historically had its president appointed by the government. Current BCB president Nazmul Hasan was also appointed by the government after Mustafa Kamal was made the ICC vice-president and had to relinquish his position with the board.

Among other boards, Sri Lanka Cricket board members are elected, however major financial expenditures must be approved by the government, and the sports minister must also approve squad selections. This power was most conspicuously used in 2008, when the sports minister intervened to revive the career of Sanath Jayasuriya, who became a Member of Parliament with the governing party in 2010, while he was still playing.

The PCB chairman is also appointed by the president of Pakistan, who is the chief patron of the board. The chief patron also has the power to relieve the PCB chairman of his post, and must approve the appointment of the governing board members.

"Every country has unique circumstances and unique way to deal with matters," a top PCB official told ESPNcricinfo. "A standalone problem for Pakistan is to bring international cricket back to the country and we can't ensure that without the help of the government." The PCB had already conveyed to the ICC the sensitivity of the matter in Pakistan, and hinted at its reluctance to adapt the recommendation.

The Woolf report had stated that "governments taking an interest in the development of cricket and providing support and patronage to Member Boards may be acceptable or even desirable. It is a matter of achieving an appropriate balance between support and interference. It is important for the credibility of such safeguards that once defined, they are enforced rigorously and consistently." At its annual conference in 2011, the ICC gave its member boards two years to become democratised and free from government and political interference.

In this year's annual conference, the BCB had amended its constitution to include the election of its president, and put an end to the government appointment system. The National Sports Council, the sports regulatory body in the country, ratified this change but also stipulated that there must be three government-appointed directors.

Isaac said the ICC were in talks with the BCB to get acquainted with the board's constitution before recommending any changes. "It is not so much about the elected president; it's more the lack of government interference. The ICC staffs are in discussions with the BCB to understand what the constitution actually says to some of those aspects."

Isaac also reiterated the ICC's stance regarding the possibility of Bangladesh touring Pakistan in the near future, saying they would provide match officials if the security arrangement met their standards. "These are bilateral matches. ICC's role was to provide match officials and referees and obviously it has some responsibility towards these people," Isaac said. "We are all keen to see cricket return to Pakistan as quickly as possible. I think David Richardson and the team has been working with the BCB officials and the PCB officials to do everything they can to get cricket back in Pakistan.

"That work has been done at the moment and an assessment is to be done of the security. If they have not been able to or the officials are not prepared to go, what is likely to happen is the ICC will allow Pakistan officials to stand. That was an arrangement we had agreed previously as a special exception to facilitate cricket returning to Pakistan."

With additional inputs by Andrew Fernando and Umar Farooq.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Harmony111 on (November 19, 2012, 9:00 GMT)

@LillianThomson: You are utterly confused between the words ADMINISTRATION and GOVERNMENT. The article talks about the interference/roles of State/Union/Federal governments in the management/administration of Cricket/Sports and not about how the Sports body of the nation administers the game.

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (November 19, 2012, 7:37 GMT)

@Udendra Sorry to disappoint you but BCCI is not involved here. The indian govt has much less say in BCCI's functioning. (The fact that BCCI moved IPL to SA in 2009 despite govt requests shows that BCCI in general is autonomous unlike other boards). May be you can wait for some other article to bash BCCI :)

Posted by Udendra on (November 19, 2012, 5:32 GMT)

so this applies to only 3 boards: SLC, PCB, BCB?

Posted by challagalla on (November 19, 2012, 1:30 GMT)

I personally am against any involvement of the government in sport and yet agree that in some nations you cannot do away with the government role totally.Cricket in India is self sufficient and does without government funding, but can we say the same with other sports in India like football, hockey,fencing or even basketball. The Bangladesh option of having a freely elected president with 2 or 3 government nominees on the board may be best till cricket is self supporting in these countries. The Sri Lanka cricket board is bankrupt [ last i heard ] and it is difficult to see them do without government support. In India most of the cricket stadiums are government owned or on land leased or gifted by the government. I dislike seeing all these politicians and bureaucrats sitting comfortably on the BCCI board, but i admit they are not nominated by the government but are duly elected through the respective state cricket associations. The government does keep its hands off BCCI and thats good

Posted by AzAb12754 on (November 18, 2012, 22:01 GMT)

@mihir_nam: Interesting point you made but I wonder when or if that will happen though? I personally think they should add another 2 full members so that not only the game is being globalized but you have a good set of teams in the top half and bottom half so all especially the bottom half will stop complaining on lack of Cricket. Its one of the big ways for competition to improve in Cricket anyway especially in the long term. Ireland are on course surely I mean already some Irish players are playing have played and/or playing for England.

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (November 18, 2012, 13:20 GMT)

There you go. The armchair fans have already started some BCCI bashing(when there is no mention of BCCI in the article itself). I thought the article was more directive against Pak but some analysts have already come with BCCI's role. BUt wait the title says "ICC reviewing stance against government interference" but when has BCCI become govt to other boards :)

Posted by Nutcutlet on (November 18, 2012, 11:48 GMT)

Agree with Lillian Thomsom & yorkslanka & like-minded folks: I cannot believe that anyone, anywhere in the world, would want (continued) political interference in what should always be a politics-free zone: professional sport. We suffer politicians; they are a necessary evil, very often corrupted by self or corporate interest & are 'economical with the truth' by default. Only one who's retired from political life, with a life-long passion for cricket (like UK's ex- PM, John Major) may be involved in the governance of our game. Their disinterested wisdom may very well be useful & their motivation would be beyond question. As for those still forging their questionable niches in history, we do not trust 'em not one iota, - and where there is no trust, there can be no confidence. The ICC needs to stand firm - but that'll be a first, because - guess what? - the political worms are already in the apple, burrowing away & probably doing very nicely for themselves.

Posted by OptimusPrimal on (November 18, 2012, 10:30 GMT)

Completely agree with Lillian Thomson.

Posted by yorkslanka on (November 18, 2012, 9:01 GMT)

Please DONT reconsider this icc, we need the politics out of our cricket..no need to have a minister who struggles with teh alphabet having any input into our cricket...

Posted by LillianThomson on (November 18, 2012, 6:19 GMT)

It relates strongly to the BCCI. It's not their fault, but the appalling governance structure is why the richest Board can control cricket in a way in which the richest football league (England's) has no such hold over football. Proper corporate governance of a sport - any sport - is important, which is why a sport like cycling (which hasn't got it) is utterly discredited and dysfunctional. The basic tenets need to be that 1) Governments have zero role, and countries with government involvement or interference are suspended, like in football. 2) Individual national Boards can nominate members of committees, but their members have no veto powers, and the majority prevails. 3) Working parties have their recommendations implemented. 4) Individuals with a Conflict of Interest (e.g. the Srinivasan dual role) are banned from administrative roles. Cricket has none of these things, which creates the conditions for the BCCI to veto whatever it feels like.

Posted by mihir_nam on (November 18, 2012, 4:48 GMT)

I guess Lord Woolf suggested add two more members to Full Member's list what has happen about that. Why Ireland cannot be added to full member and play likes of Bangladesh,Zimbabwe,New Zealand,West Indies . When Bangladesh or Zimbabwe were added what first class structure they had. And why ICC after realizing growth of cricket in Ireland not coming forward to create first class structure.

Posted by   on (November 17, 2012, 23:48 GMT)

So how does this relate to the BCCI?

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