Flower, Olonga to continue armband protest against Mugabe

Published: Monday, February 17, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare: Zimbabwe's World Cup players Andy Flower and Henry Olonga are set to continue their black armband protest against the regime of President Robert Mugabe when their team plays India on Wednesday. The two men, who have kept their places in the team for the Group 'A' game, escaped punishment last week from the International Cricket Council (ICC) for their protest as well as for releasing a powerful statement condemning the conditions in the country, during the game against Namibia on February 10.

The two players, widely applauded for their brave stand, were not available for comment on Monday but a team source said that the protest goes on. "I doubt whether they will change their minds," the source said. Although the ICC declined to take any action against Flower and Olonga, they did ask them to desist from displaying black armbands, which the two said would be worn for the duration of the World Cup. The chief executive of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU), Vince Hogg, said that a disciplinary hearing may still be held into the matter as he claimed the players are in breach of contract.

"A hearing is under consideration, but not at this stage. The matter remains open," Hogg said. Meanwhile, the ZCU is still counting the cost of England boycotting its fixture. Hogg said the loss of TV income, which is spread among the 10 Test nations and associate members, is considerable. "But there is also the ticket sales as all money has to be returned, which also meant considerable man hours. We have also lost large sums of money from catering, security, rentals and staffing.

"We had also booked about 30 of the England party for four nights at a top hotel. They were due last Sunday but we couldn't cancel until the following Wednesday, so that meant 120 nights at high foreign currency rates because there had to be a 100 per cent cancellation fee. "Our losses therefore run into a great deal. But any claim will be considered at a later stage," Hogg said.

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