Pakistan Super League 2017 January 11, 2017

FICA justifies warning about Lahore risk

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The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) has insisted its warning to players thinking of playing in the Pakistan Super League final in Lahore is from "highly credible security experts" and "in line with advice from government agencies and diplomatic missions."

FICA was fiercely criticised by the PCB after circulating a memo to players, players' associations and players' agents that spoke of "an extremely elevated" risk level in Pakistan. And while they stopped just short of advising players not to travel - they do not have the power to prevent them from doing so - they did conclude that "an acceptable level of participant security and safety cannot be expected or guaranteed."

That warning infuriated the PCB who responded by calling FICA's approach "careless and cavalier." Stating that "not a single foreigner or hotel has been attacked in Lahore in the last five years" the PCB scolded FICA for making "a sweeping negative statement about the security situation" from "thousands of miles away."

Although FICA have now expressed "great sympathy for fans and players in Pakistan" and stated they "we would like to see the PSL succeed" they have reiterated that their responsibility and priority was "the safety and security of players" and have stood by their earlier comments warning of an "elevated security risk" when visiting Pakistan.

Responding to the PCB's claim that FICA "cannot name even one credible security expert" which might have informed their original statement, FICA clarified that they utilised the advice of Eastern Star International (ESI). That is the company headed by Reg Dickason, who has provided security advice to the ECB, CA, NZC and the ICC among others and who recently gave the go-ahead for England's tour of Bangladesh.

"FICA relies on advice given by expert security consultants, Eastern Star International (ESI)," their statement reads. "ESI has supplied security services over several years to a number of cricket boards and international teams around the world and to the International Cricket Council (ICC).

"FICA sent a confidential memorandum highlighting the advice received from ESI relating to the elevated security risk for them of playing in Pakistan. The elevated risk is in line with advice from government agencies and diplomatic missions of several countries regarding travel by foreigners to Pakistan."

FICA also suggested the PCB was "not responsive" to attempts to discuss their security concerns relating to playing the PSL final in Lahore and reiterated the security situation which has led to the almost complete absence of top-level cricket from Pakistan since 2009.

"Since the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore Pakistan has played bilateral home series matches against ICC full member countries in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for security reasons," the FICA statement says. "The only full member men's team to tour Pakistan in this time was Zimbabwe in 2015. The ICC declined to send its match officials to Pakistan to officiate in this series for security reasons. A suicide bomber detonated an explosive device outside the stadium in Lahore shortly before the 2nd ODI of the series, killing himself and a policeman.

"The PCB is staging all PSL matches, except the planned final in Lahore, in the UAE for security reasons. Several months ago the PCB consulted FICA in relation to provisions of the standard player contract for the PSL. When FICA expressed possible security concerns relating to playing the final in Lahore the PCB was not responsive to FICA on this issue."

Tony Irish, FICA's Executive Chairman, said: "Players around the world from affiliated countries have always looked to FICA to provide them with information relating to security risks of playing in various parts of the world. It is our responsibility to provide this information, which we obtain from highly credible security experts, so that players can make informed decisions."

The PCB has made clear that the PSL final will be played in Lahore on March 7 whether overseas players participate or not.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Muhandis on January 17, 2017, 10:32 GMT

    Being a Pakistani I would definitely love to see PSL on Pak grounds. But why Lahore only, or in other words, we are telling the world, listen, Pak is not safe, but we guarantee Lahore is safe! So I think we should first sort out the next to negative existence of mishap, clean it, and once we are done with that, trust me the world is hungry of love, refreshment and enjoyment. Not only cricketers but everyone else will come to explore the heavenly beauty of Pak including its diversified culture. So PCB should not rebuke by words only, instead, call the same ESI to conduct a thorough security check. If they give green signal, publish the report, but if they spot something fishy, we should ourselves work on that to clear, and repeat the process time to time.

  •   cricfan06279742 on January 13, 2017, 9:02 GMT

    completely disagree on false report, I travelled twicely every year and hadn't felt in dangers. What criteria do they follow to measure the security risk? Have FICA member ever travelled in Pakistan.

  • avmd on January 12, 2017, 11:51 GMT

    Thanks our eastern neighbors for showing your great concern about regarding security if they flew to Lahore and I'm very impressed with your knowledge of security situation in Lahore. Wondering how many of your players will be playing in the PSL final ? Our Bangladeshi friends are not behind, thanks friends, we have great neighbors. This is the time to settle the some score, I'm loving it.

  • GR8GAUR on January 12, 2017, 7:32 GMT

    Even PSL draft was held in UAE, so what is PCB talking about ?

  • itsdineshk on January 12, 2017, 6:49 GMT

    Lots of emotions and understandable too. An objective way to put a full stop to this is for PCB to commission an independent and a world class Security Agency to conduct a fair audit and make the findings public or better still the ICC can do it as well. From an Indian fan. (agree and it is a truth that cricket is poorer without pakistan in its glory and that can happen only when the other top sides tour pakistan)

  • Khurram S Chaudhry on January 12, 2017, 6:00 GMT

    Credibility of these experts is clearly visible when they said foreigners and hotels were targeted while no such incident happened in last few years and that also in Lahore. More likely they did their "expert work" sitting in warm offices infront of computers. Just because they did advised previously to ECB doesnt mean that their information is credible. Main thing is that its reported that ICC task force is planning to travel in few weeks to assess situation. WICB may also do that. So if they say it isnt good to travel then thats fine. Atleast they will travel and aasess not just google it. So why not leave it to actual assessment instead of credible home experts?

  • cricfan99821006 on January 12, 2017, 4:33 GMT

    @INSIDEHEDGE this is not a statement of cricket lover or a human being what you saying.This is a statement of any indian who hardly wanted almost not wanted that cricket comes back in pak.stop politics just talk about cricket we are cricket loving country so stop your blame game even your own game that cricket shouldn't be played in pak ever.Stop your negative thoughts man.

  • Hasan.Siftain on January 12, 2017, 4:30 GMT

    From a foreign point of view security in Pakistan is indeed a concern. However, PCB should go ahead staging final in Lahore, with or without foreign players. Once PCB staged it successfully, the next PSL final will include all the foreign players and further next PSL will be stages in Pakistan all together. Slow and steady PCB and Pakistan fans, Slow and steady.

  • getsetgopk on January 12, 2017, 4:26 GMT

    CHRIS_P: The thing about this whole situation that is puzzling to me is that FICA circulated a 'confidential' security memo and that memo supposedly came from ESI. Did FICA contacted ESI to go to Pak and judge the security plan and determine if that plan will hold against any threats to the players and the event. I dont think that has been done as I dont see this anywhere in the FICA report. In the case of ECB and ICC, both the bodies contracted ESI as in paid contract to go and thoroughly check the ground realities against the actual plan in place to thwart any dangers. From all these facts, I can only deduce the ESI report is nothing but a fabrication. Players safety is a delicate matter and so is stopping a country from hosting cricket. They have a responsibility to their affiliated players but dont forget that they have no right to influence the ability of a country to host sporting events. Like I said, they both are delicate.

  • avmd on January 12, 2017, 4:18 GMT

    That's not fair by FICA,Its very easy to create doubt among the players, and they are just doing that. There has not been unpleasant incidence on any tourist for more than 5 years and even longer in Lahore. Some of my American colleague, from Universities in America has visited Lahore for academic conferences and loved their stay there. Lahore is a bustling city and safe and secure for tourist, an ordinary one like me or VIPs like professional players. PCB not taking anything for granted, they are not asking for a full test series at the moment but just one match at a secure place. I know its hard to improve the perception but I think many people's comment and FICA reaction is biased and insensitive to millions of Pakistani fans.

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