UK insist he was not stalled April 25, 2008

Confusion over Chingoka visa claims

Cricinfo staff

Peter Chingoka: not denied a visa according to the UK authorities © Getty Images
There is confusion over claims made by Peter Chingoka, the Zimbabwe Cricket chairman, that both he and the country's Under-15 side were in effect blocked by the UK authorities when they attempted to get visas earlier this month.

Chingoka is understood to have told members of the ICC executive that his application, submitted at the end of March, was deliberately delayed with the result that he had to withdraw his passport to enable him to travel to India for the launch of the IPL. It is also suggested that the British embassy in Harare put up obstacles when the U-15 side attempted to get transit visas to enable them to travel to the Caribbean for a tournament. The claims were a key factor in the subsequent decision to move the ICC's annual conference from London to Dubai.

However, Chingoka's story is at odds with that put forward by the British authorities. They maintain that Chingoka's application was in the course of being processed when he requested his passport back from them. Given that he had been declined a visa last October, it was far from a rubber-stamping exercise and was always likely to take a few weeks anyway. They stressed at no time had Chingoka been declined a visa and that he was free to resubmit his application.

"Once again Chingoka has demonstrated his ability to misrepresent the facts," an ECB source was quoting as telling The Guardian. "It is fundamentally untrue that he was refused a visa. Our understanding is that he asked for his passport to be returned so that he could join several other members of Zimbabwe Cricket enjoying the hospitality of the Indian board."

The U-15 situation is not quite as it seems either. While the official line appears to be that they were advised there was no point in submitting an application, again this is at odds with what Cricinfo was told by the UK authorities. They claim that a call was made by Zimbabwe Cricket to the embassy in the days before the team was due to leave to seek advice. They were told that applications from anyone who had not travelled to the UK, the USA or the EU in the past two years would be handled by the office in Pretoria. At no point were they discouraged from applying, and the ZC official is said to have accepted that the timing would be tight. No application was ever submitted, other than for one umpire and that was rejected as his documentation was incomplete.