ICC suspends a Full Member (Zimbabwe) for the first time
Zimbabwe have been suspended from the ICC with immediate effect. ICC funding to Zimbabwe Cricket has been frozen, and representative teams from Zimbabwe will not be allowed to participate in any ICC events while under suspension, making Zimbabwe’s participation in the Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in August and Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in October highly unlikely.
After several rounds of meetings in London this week, the ICC Board unanimously decided that Zimbabwe Cricket was in breach of Article 2.4 (c) and (d) of the ICC Constitution, and that the actions of the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) in suspending the board in June constituted government interference in Zimbabwe Cricket’s affairs.
“We do not take the decision to suspend a Member lightly, but we must keep our sport free from political interference,” ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar said. “What has happened in Zimbabwe is a serious breach of the ICC Constitution and we cannot allow it to continue unchecked.”
Media also speculated that a major part of the ICC’s reasoning in blocking funds to ZC was that it was concerned the money might be diverted to the Zimbabwe government instead of being utilised for the development of cricket and the players.
Zimbabwe is in the midst of an economic crisis, with inflation figures increasing exponentially and price increases at a 10-year high as government coffers empty. According to an official who attended the meetings this week, since the ICC disburses funds in US dollars to member boards, it feared that the Zimbabwean government would seize the funds and hence the extreme step of barring ZC its funding had to be taken.
Zimbabwe’s sanctioning marks the very first time a Full Member has been suspended by the ICC – although Sri Lanka were warned in 2015 by the then ICC chief executive David Richardson that they were at risk of immediate sanction for government interference in their administration. Various Associate Members are currently under suspension, including Nepal. However, Nepal’s national teams have been allowed to continue participating in ICC events during suspension, as had USA during their recent suspension and expulsion period from June 2015 through January 2019.
The ICC has directed that the ZC board originally elected in mid-June be reinstated to office within three months, and progress in this respect will be considered again at the next board meeting in October. “The ICC wants cricket to continue in Zimbabwe in accordance with the ICC Constitution,” Manohar added.