ICC backs down on India; decides to withhold bounty

Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2003, 17:33 [IST]
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London: India's leading cricketers will be allowed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to play in next month's World Cup despite changing the terms of their contracts, a source close to the negotiations said on Tuesday. Both sides in the dispute between cricket's world governing body and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will call a truce during the February 8 to March 23 tournament, the source said. But he added that India's World Cup cut of $ 8 to 9 million would not be released by ICC until the dispute was resolved. And, in a dramatic development, the source warned that if the BCCI failed to pay any compensation arising from its players altered contracts, it would be suspended from the ICC and so become a rebel cricket nation.

On Friday, the World Cup contracts committee (WCCC) will formally tell the ICC's management board that India's players be allowed to take part on their own terms. India's entire World Cup squad objected to the ICC ruling, which prohibits players from endorsing non-official sponsors before, during and after the World Cup. Last week the ICC confirmed it had received "signed but amended contracts" from the Indian players by its January 14 deadline. Many Indian stars, including Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, enjoy lucrative deals with non-official sponsors, which they may have to forego if the original World Cup contracts are enforced. The BCCI and the players strongly oppose two of the 22 clauses in the players' contracts. These relate to banning non-official endorsements for 30 days prior to the World Cup and five days after it, and allowing the players' images to be used by official sponsors for three months after the event.

The 30-day pre-tournament moratorium is already a non-starter. Indian players are featuring prominently in non-official advertisements just weeks before the tournament begins in South Africa. On Sunday, the WCCC met via conference call to discuss the Indian impasse. There had been three options - reject what the Indian players had put in front of them and tell the BCCI to sign up to the original terms, agree to suspend the row, or going ahead with the tournament without India. However the BCCI might have to pay a heavy price. "The BCCI would be responsible for any damages that arose from their players playing under their amended contracts," the source added. The source said the extent of any damages would be settled by arbitration and admitted that the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, a venue previously suggested by current BCCI and former ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya for resolving the dispute, could be used.


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