UAE protest over ICC Trophy visa refusals

The Emirates Cricket Board, governing body for the game in the United Arab Emirates, has lodged a protest with the ICC over the refusal of the Canadian Embassy to issue visas to two of its squad members for the recent ICC Trophy.

Abdul Wahab and Mairaj Khaliq were unable to take their places in the Emirates' squad for the World Cup qualifying tournament which concluded last week. UAE, shock winners of the tournament in 1994 before residential eligibility rules were tightened, finished fifth in the 2001 ICC Trophy, two places shy of qualifying for the 2003 World Cup.

In a letter to the ICC, Emirates Cricket Board representative Mazhar Khan said that West Africa, Nepal and Uganda had also faced disruption to their team selections because of visa refusals by the Canadian Government. The West African team failed to arrive in Canada for the tournament at all when visa applications were finally sorted out with the competition almost completed.

Khan claimed that the ICC and the Canadian Cricket Association had given their assurances that all visa problems would be resolved before the event. He went on to call for all matches in the ICC Trophy involving the UAE, Uganda, West Africa and Nepal to somehow be replayed.

"The pain and mental stress the players and the management went through to get the visas sorted out for over four weeks should be taken up seriously by the ICC," Khan said.

The ICC has yet to make a response to the Emirates Cricket Board's protest.

The Netherlands, Namibia and Canada qualified for the 2003 World Cup as the top three placed teams in this year's ICC Trophy competition, the running of which was described last week by World Cup organising committee managing director Ali Bacher as "the best ever".