Flower, Olongo escape ICC punishment on protest issue

Published: Saturday, February 15, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Zimbabwean cricketers Andy Flower and Henry Olonga have escaped punishment from the International Cricket Council (ICC) for their public protest against the regime of President Robert Mugabe during their World Cup clash against Namibia, it was announced on Friday. The two players earned worldwide praise for their courage in donning black armbands in the match at the Harare Sports Club on February 10 and for the powerful joint statement they released which strongly condemned living conditions in the strife- torn country. They were reported to the ICC by its own board, the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) whose patron is Mugabe, who claimed that the actions of the players brought the game into disrepute. "The ICC seeks at all times to avoid using cricket as a platform on which to advance political agendas and its very strong belief is that the players, officials and administrators within the game should refrain from doing the same," said Malcolm Speed, the head of the six-man technical committee which made the decision. "The Committee requested that the players stop wearing black armbands to make political statements for the duration of the World Cup. There are enough people outside the sport seeking to achieve political ends through cricket for their own purposes, without the sports participants contributing to this matter. "In the case of Flower and Olonga, the players have blurred the lines between political issues and the sporting arena. While this is a principle that the ICC does not wish to see violated, it is also the case that there is no sound basis for finding that their actions have brought the game into disrepute and there is no charge that could be sustained under the ICC Code of Conduct."

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