Safety for PSL final 'cannot be guaranteed' - FICA report
The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations has issued a report which strongly suggests that overseas players decline to participate in the 2017 Pakistan Super League Final due to concerns over player safety.
In the report, FICA has warned that the risk level in Pakistan remains "at an extremely elevated state" and that "an acceptable level of participant security and safety cannot be expected or guaranteed."
Organisers have already announced that the final will be played in Lahore on March 7, as planned, whether overseas players take part or not. If they decline to travel, they will be replaced by players from Pakistan. All earlier games in the tournament will be played in the UAE.
But the FICA report would appear to reduce the chances of overseas players participating. While FICA does not have the power to prevent players travelling, its report, circulated to players, their agents and player associations around the world, might influence some national boards and domestic teams to decline to issue No Objection Certificates to their players. FICA has also warned players to "check their insurance coverage" with the suggestion being that it could be invalidated by travelling to Pakistan.
The report, which FICA says is based on "updated security advice we have received" from its "expert security consultants" states that: "Pakistan continues to experience significant terrorist attacks across the country and Westerners have in the past been directly targeted and killed in Pakistan. Indiscriminate and targeted attacks are likely to continue, and expert advice is consistent with all Government Agencies and Diplomatic Missions, who generally advise to reconsider the need to travel."
It goes on to state: "There have been attacks at sporting events, which have had significant security overlay in the past, and terrorist groups in Pakistan have demonstrated the intent and capability to launch attacks anywhere in the country. Locations including luxury hotels are also at high risk of being targeted by militant groups.
"The historic use of suicide bombers, the willingness of terrorist groups to attack armed police and police protected sporting events, the capability of such groups and the intent, suggests that the risk associated with the running of an international sporting event are problematic at present.
"Whilst the opportunity for attack on international sporting events and competitors in Pakistan can be mitigated to a certain extent by the implementation of an extremely robust security plan, the current advice is that external security environmental factors keep the risk level in Pakistan at an extremely elevated state, where an acceptable level of participant security and safety cannot be expected or guaranteed, even with an extremely robust security plan." The report concludes: "Players participating in this event do so as individuals and at their own risk."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo