The Masters Champions League which completed its inaugural season during February is now under criticism for not paying the vast majority of players involved. ESPN Cricinfo reported Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) Chief Tony Irish slamming the organizers of the UAE-based league for not honoring contractual obligations.
Irish asserted, “As far as we are aware only one team, the Gemini Arabians, has been paid in full and on time. We understand it is a new event, however, the event finished more than three months ago and the situation is entirely unacceptable.”
He noted, "If it is possible for the Gemini Arabians to do things the right way and to honor commitments to players, we don't see why the organizers have not ensured the same has happened for all players. They have an obligation to do so.”
Six teams participated in the league with the Virender Sehwag-led Gemini Arabians side triumphing in the end. Alongside the Indian batting icon, some of the other big names include Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Saqlain Mushtaq, Brian Lara, Herschelle Gibbs, Michael Vaughan, Graeme Smith, Brett Lee, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Bond.
The FICA Chairman warned, “The dishonoring 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.”
Calling for a world-wide system to monitor private tournament, Irish affirmed, “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.“
Even though the event was approved by the Emirates Cricket Board which is an associate member of the ICC, the league was marred by several controversies with national boards having to grapple with the retirement of veteran cricketers to obtain No Objection Certificates (NOC).
However, MCL’s principal owner Zafar Shah assured that the pending payments would be cleared soon. Expressing his surprise at FICA’s claims, he revealed, “The [FICA] statement says only one team has paid, but that is not entirely true.”
Shah argued, “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."
Promising to look into the situation, he said, “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.“