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Transparency Int’nal slams ICC: Cricket needs comprehensive reforms

Transparency International (TI) chapters from nine cricket-playing countries, including Australia, India and United Kingdom, express serious concern at proposed reform of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and call on the ICC to publish a formal response to the Woolf Report and meanwhile halt any other significant governance reforms.

A joint statement by Transparency International chapters in Australia, Bangladesh, India, Jamaica, Netherlands, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Transparency International president Deryck Murray (foreground) is a former West Indies cricket stand-out and Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board president.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute president Deryck Murray (foreground) is a former West Indies cricket stand-out and Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board president.

In the coming week, the ICC will be discussing proposals to reform the governance of world cricket. These proposals substantially depart from the principles of good governance and democratic participation, and appear not to address the risks of corruption within the game of cricket.

For instance: many member countries are effectively dis-enfranchised; there remains a worrying lack of transparency in many areas; there is no clarity on how the ICC aims to assess and mitigate corruption risk at an administrative level; there is no provision for independent Board representation; and the intention to entrench a privileged position for “The Big Three” appears to be an abuse of entrusted power for private gain, giving them disproportionate, unaccountable and unchallengeable authority on a wide variety of constitutional, personnel, integrity, ethics, development and nomination matters.

As recently as 2011, the ICC itself commissioned Lord Woolf to submit a report on the governance of world cricket. The report was delivered in 2012. It suggested a series of reforms to make cricket’s governance more transparent and better equipped to oversee a global sport.

Since then, there has been no formal response from the ICC to the Woolf recommendations. The current proposals bear little or no relation to the principles outlined in the Woolf report, which in itself only represented standard corporate governance practice in many parts of the world.

Photo: International Cricket Council (ICC) president Alan Isaac (centre) talks with ex-CEO Haroon Lorgat (right) while present CEO David Richardson looks. (Courtesy Hindu.com)
Photo: International Cricket Council (ICC) president Alan Isaac (centre) talks with ex-CEO Haroon Lorgat (right) while present CEO David Richardson looks.
(Courtesy Hindu.com)

The proposals are notable for ignoring other wider indicators of good governance such as accountability, transparency, participation, consensus, equity and inclusiveness.

Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption organisation, made an initial submission to Lord Woolf and thereafter published its own report on cricket’s governance challenges in 2013, entitled Fair Play.

TI expressed concern that the risk of corruption in cricket is rising, and that little seems to be done to address those risks. The exception to this is in the area of match-fixing and spot-fixing.

Yet cricket’s governance problems and corruption risks go far beyond the on-field players, and include officials, administrators and sponsors. The current reform proposal makes no mention of how these salient issues will be addressed to ensure the future growth of the sport.

Corruption is already alleged to affect several areas of the game, from appointments to, and by, domestic cricket boards to the mis-application of funds for projects such as stadium-building.

Photo: Former South Africa cricket captain Hanse Cronje was one of the first big names to be convicted of match fixing. (Courtesy Telegraph.co.uk)
Photo: Former South Africa cricket captain Hanse Cronje was one of the first big names to be convicted of match fixing.
(Courtesy Telegraph.co.uk)

TI believes that this creates an environment in which it is far more difficult to address match-fixing and the basic principle of fair play. Poor governance structures, lack of transparency, a failure to acknowledge the risks and multi-million dollar revenues create the conditions in which corruption can thrive.

This is the challenge that faces the ICC, and yet these issues are strikingly absent from discussions regarding reform of the organisation. The proposals for reforming the ICC due to be discussed by the ICC this week are out of line with the principles of good governance and it is difficult to see how they are in the interests of the game as a whole.

The proposed changes create a concentration of power in the big three with no oversight or effective avenue for the other full, affiliate and associate members to hold them to account, reinforcing concerns that the creation of reserved places in the top tier is open to abuse rather than serving the best interest of the game.

The funds that support the ICC are ultimately generated by cricket lovers all over the world. They are important stakeholders in the game, and should not be ignored.

Photo: West Indies cricket fans brave the rain in hope of some action.
Photo: West Indies cricket fans brave the rain in hope of some action.

 

As chapters of Transparency International in countries where there are millions of cricket lovers, we call on ICC to:

• Give a formal response to the Woolf Report and related de Speville Report, identifying which recommendations it accepts and the reasons for rejecting others, and meanwhile halt any other significant governance reforms;

• Acknowledge the problems associated with weak governance and related corruption risks within cricket;

• Introduce independent non-executive directors to the ICC board, as recommended by the Woolf Report;

• Indicate how the so-called “weaker” Test-playing countries, as well as the Associate and Affiliate members of the ICC, will be accommodated in a reformed structure that pays regard to good governance.

Photo: West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago teammates Kieron Pollard (right) and Dwayne Bravo. West Indies could arguably become a second tier nation if a leaked ICC proposal is accepted by the Board of the governing body.
Photo: West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago teammates Kieron Pollard (right) and Dwayne Bravo.
West Indies could arguably become a second tier nation if a leaked ICC proposal is accepted by the Board of the governing body.

We believe that the ICC should aim to be a model of good governance and transparency for domestic cricket boards to follow.

Above all, we believe that ICC and domestic boards should act in the best interests of the game of cricket.

International Cricket Council (ICC) response following Day One of its board meeting in Dubai

The ICC Board unanimously supported the following principles, according to a media release issued today:

  • There will be an opportunity for all Members to play all formats of cricket on merit, with participation based on meritocracy; no immunity to any country, and no change to membership status.
  • A Test Cricket Fund paid equally on an annual basis to all Full Members (except the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board) will be introduced to encourage and support Test match cricket.
  • A larger percentage from the increasing Associate Members’ surplus will be distributed to the higher performing non-Full Members.
  • Mutually agreed bi-lateral FTP Agreements which will be legally binding and bankable and will run for the same period as the ICC commercial rights cycle (2015-2023).
  • Recognition of the need for strong leadership of the ICC, involving leading Members, which will involve BCCI taking a central leadership responsibility.
  • A need to recognise the varying contribution of Full Members to the value of ICC events through the payment of ‘contribution costs’.
  • The establishment of an Executive Committee (ExCo) and Financial & Commercial Affairs Committee (F&CA) to provide leadership at an operational level, with five members, including BCCI, CA and ECB representatives. Anybody from within the Board can be elected to Chair the Board and anybody from within ExCo and F&CA can be elected to Chair those Committees. With the ICC undergoing a transitional period that includes a new governance structure and media rights cycle, this leadership will be provided for two years from June 2014 by: a BCCI representative to Chair the ICC Board, a CA representative to Chair the ExCo and an ECB representative to Chair the F&CA.
  • A new company will be incorporated to tender future commercial rights for ICC events. There will be three major ICC events in each four-year cycle, including the ICC Champions Trophy which will replace the ICC World Test Championship.
  • ICC will utilise a more efficient operating model for all ICC events, with a simplified accounting model across ICC income and expenditure to help better manage ICC administrative and event costs.

About Transparency International

Transparency International
Our Mission is to stop corruption and promote transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society. Our Core Values are: transparency, accountability, integrity, solidarity, courage, justice and democracy.

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