"A very sad day" - Understanding the cricket crisis in South Africa

South Africa cricket crisis
South Africa cricket crisis
Suryesh M

South Africa's national cricketing board, Cricket South Africa (CSA), faces the threat of being derecognized if the government's gazette containing Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa's proposed intervention is published.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) doesn't allow the government's interference in any country's cricket body. In quite a few instances earlier, the apex council banned countries from participating in international competitions when this happened.

With the South African government exercising its power to take over the board's control, international cricket in the country could come to a halt.

"It is indeed a very sad day for our country, for cricket, for the millions of fans who love the game and the sponsors who have committed to cricket and its grassroots development."
"But it is a specifically sad day for the players, staff, and others whose livelihood are at stake," Stavros Nicolaou, chairman of CSA's interim board, said.

The situation that led to South Africa's government intervention...

The South Africa players
The South Africa players

Cricket South Africa's structure

Basically, there are two centers of power in Cricket South Africa (CSA): the board of directors and the members' council. The members' council is comprised of 14 provincial presidents. The council has the most significant decision-making authority in CSA.

The interim board

Last year, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee and the South African Sports minister placed an interim board to look over the CSA.

The decision was made after the existing board spiraled into several crises during Thabarg Moroe's administration. During his time at the helm, Moroe entered into several disagreements with the players' associations, broadcasters, and government.

Moreover, according to reports, a lot of money was spent on alcohol and other service providers who didn't fulfill their commitments. This ended up putting the CSA in a massive financial crunch, with losses running into millions of Rands.

So, essentially, the government of South Africa dismissed the Board of Directors and replaced it with the interim board.

2nd KFC T20I: South Africa v Pakistan
2nd KFC T20I: South Africa v Pakistan

Members' council reject the reforms

Since then, the government and the interim board have been trying hard to bring reforms to the CSA.

A special meeting was held last week with a proposal to approve a new constitution for CSA. The constitution would have placed an independent chairman for the board and a majority of independent members.

75 percent majority was required in what was a secret vote to implement these changes. This implies that at least 11 members of the council needed to vote for these reforms.

However, six of the fourteen members voted in favor of the proposal, but five voted against it. Three members abstained from voting, which stalled the process of rebuilding cricket in South Africa.

While the members haven't yet fully explained why they went against the new proposal, it is understood that they fear that their representation will be less significant in the new structure. It is to be noted that board members earn 450,000 rands every year for their roles in CSA.

Sports minister takes over the control

Since the proposal didn't pass, the Sports Minister of South Africa has decided to take over the control.

"It is deeply disappointing that a self-interested vocal minority voted against change while three members chose to abstain," CSA's interim board said of the failed vote.

Even though the issues with the board have persisted for several years now, things collapsed rather fast after Thabarg Moroe's administration was dismissed.

"These actions have now brought the game to its knees and will cause the greatest crisis since (South Africa's international) readmission," the interim board added.

With the South African government intervening and with the CSA facing a potential ban by the ICC, the lives of several people associated with the sport in South Africa will change forever.

"Government intervention in the sport will have dire consequences, the full extent of which we do not yet know," South African international players, including Test captain Dean Elgar and limited-overs captain Temba Bavuma, said in a joint statement earlier in the week.

Is there a chance of this issue getting resolved?

It seems complicated, but there is hope. The South African government passes the gazettes every Friday. This means that this gazette will be passed on April 30. So before the CSA ceases to exist, the members' council could agree to the new proposal.

Otherwise, all existing cricket structures would collapse in South Africa. Even if another body is formed, the ICC and the South African sports ministry must recognize it. There will also be a ripple effect as the sponsors, broadcasters and others involved will back out, and getting them back on board will be an arduous task.

Edited by Diptanil Roy
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