The Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) has claimed that the Masters Cricket League, a private T20 tournament for retired cricketers held in Dubai and Sharjah earlier this year, has not paid "a significant number of players" according to their contractual agreements.
"As far as we are aware only one team, the Gemini Arabians, has been paid in full and on time." FICA chief executive Tony Irish said. "We understand it is a new event, however, the event finished more than three months ago, and the situation is entirely unacceptable.
"If it is possible for the Gemini Arabians to do things the right way and to honour commitments to players, we don't see why the organisers have not ensured the same has happened for all players. They have an obligation to do so.
"The dishonouring of player contracts is an issue that the entire global game should address. This story is too common in cricket and there are players with outstanding amounts owed to them around the world. The game needs robust player contract systems that work and are respected in all countries. We also believe there should be fair and independent recourse and contract enforcement mechanisms for players in the event of disputes like this, such as a global arbitration body."
The MCL conducted its inaugural season in the UAE in January and February after it was approved by the Emirates Cricket Board, an Associate Member of the ICC. Though the tournament was meant for retired players, some national cricket boards faced issues with current players seeking no-objection certificates to play. The MCL also faced a player-payment issue during the tournament, which was later resolved.
Responding to the FICA's concerns, Zafar Shah, the MCL owner, said the payments would be made to the players shortly. Shah said the FICA had contacted him on the issue about a month ago, and that he was "surprised" to see the federation's media release when he had assured it that the players would not be left in the lurch.
"The [FICA] statement says only one team has paid, but that is not entirely true," Shah told ESPNcricinfo. "The other teams have only to make the last part of the payment which has been delayed. Contractually, franchises need to make the last payment within 30 days of the tournament finishing."
Shah said the franchises were "working very hard" and were close to honouring the payments and that is what he had told FICA. "We assured FICA that every player would be paid. More than a month ago we were in touch. They were asking for a commitment from my side, but how can I commit until and unless I get something concrete from the team owners."