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South African cricket federation faces its 'greatest crisis' as government intervenes

The situation with Cricket South Africa is complex, though, with the government and CSA's interim board effectively working together against a third body, the decision-making members' council.

Published: 23rd April 2021 08:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd April 2021 08:12 PM   |  A+A-

South Africa cricket

South African cricket team (Photo| AP)

By Associated Press

CAPE TOWN: The South African government exercised its power to intervene in the running of the country's troubled cricket federation on Friday, leaving the federation to face its "greatest crisis" since the end of apartheid.

Cricket South Africa's interim board said it had received notice from sports minister Nathi Mthethwa that he had invoked a section of law allowing the government to take decisions out of the hands of sports officials when disputes can't be resolved.

The move threatens South Africa's teams as the International Cricket Council does not allow governments to interfere in national cricket bodies. The ICC has previously banned countries from international competitions when that happens.

The ICC said on Friday that it had not received a complaint from Cricket South Africa over government interference. The situation with Cricket South Africa is complex, though, with the government and CSA's interim board effectively working together against a third body, the decision-making members' council of the CSA.

The latest dispute relates to the refusal by the members' council at a special meeting last weekend to approve a new constitution for CSA that would have given its board an independent chairman and a majority of independent members.

The government and interim board are both pushing for the reforms. The members' council, often criticized as antiquated, is made up of the 14 presidents of South Africa's provincial cricket unions. They rejected the changes in a secret vote where a 75 per cent majority was required.

Six members voted for the changes, but five voted against and three abstained, stalling a months-long process of rebuilding South African cricket's shattered reputation.

That setback led to the sports minister taking control. "It is deeply disappointing that a self-interested vocal minority voted against change while three members chose to abstain. These actions have now brought the game to its knees and will cause the greatest crisis since (South Africa's international) readmission," CSA's interim board said of the failed vote.

CSA's troubles date back years but reached tipping point last year when chief executive Thabang Moroe and other officials were fired for misconduct and an investigation showed how the previous board had failed in its oversight duties.

Since then, the CSA president and a stand-in chief executive have quit, and a second stand-in chief executive was suspended for alleged misconduct. South African players have also had enough. "Government intervention in the sport will have dire consequences, the full extent of which we do not yet know," top South African international players, including Test captain Dean Elgar and limited-overs captain Temba Bavuma, said in a joint statement earlier in the week.

"The right to represent South Africa may be withdrawn and the ICC may suspend Cricket South Africa. These outcomes will in turn impact touring, broadcast rights and sponsorship deals. Ultimately, the financial viability of the game will suffer and cricket at all levels will be severely prejudiced. As players, we wish to speak directly to the many sponsors of our beloved game ...We apologize for the actions of our administrators, who have undermined and betrayed your commitment to the sport," they added.



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