Speed rejects claims of ignoring players' rights

Published: Thursday, August 15, 2002, 0:23 [IST]
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Bangalore: International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed on Wednesday strongly rejected claims that the ICC had ignored the rights of players in its commercial arrangements with sponsors for the ICC Champions Trophy and the ICC World Cup 2003, according to an official press release.

Some player representatives have suggested that the pre-existing personal endorsements should take precedence over the ICC's commercial arrangements. "It is a well established practice in elite sport that, for the benefit of the game, protection against ambush marketing is given to the sport's commercial partners," Speed said. "This is nothing new.

It is a long-standing practice across a range of sports. It is in place at the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, the Rugby World Cup and the Football World Cup and it was a key element of the arrangements agreed with the players for the Cricket World Cup in 1999," he said. "We are also well aware of the activities of some big businesses targeting individual players and encouraging them to sign agreements that are in direct conflict with the people who are investing many millions of dollars in to the game. We are on high alert on this issue and we will not let the people who are supporting the sport be ambushed.

" The importance of protecting ICC tournament sponsors was clearly illustrated during the 1999 World Cup when the eventual champions Australian had to forgo its then team sponsor because it was a competitor of the tournament sponsor Pepsi, the release said. "To my knowledge no player or his manager at any stage sought the view of the ICC as to the restrictions that would be in place before they signed these agreements," Speed said.

"If a player now finds that, through his own actions, he has put his commercial interests ahead of his ability to play for his country he needs to decide what is more important to him, the money or playing for his country," he stated.

"If it is playing for his country, he needs to find a solution and not look to the ICC to dilute its ambush marketing protections in order solve his contractual issues. I must also emphasise that the ICC wants the best players in the world to play in the Champions Trophy and the World Cup and will do everything it can to make this happen.

"It would be terrible for cricket that if just because a big business is not able to hijack an event it decides to resort to using the legal system to stop the best players in the world from playing for their country. That is clearly not in the interest of the game or the players. "I hope that it does not get to this point and that the players are able to agree to play in these tournaments," he added.

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