South Africa to put brakes on Kolpak deals

Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2007, 23:07 [IST]
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Johannesburg:South African cricket authorities said on Tuesday they would be clamping down, with the help of their English counterparts, on their players registering as Kolpak players in county cricket.

Under the Kolpak ruling, players from countries that have a trade agreement with the European Union are allowed to play in the bloc as locals as long as they do not appear for their countries.

Norman Arendse, president of Cricket South Africa (CSA), said he had met England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Dave Collier and discussed the issue.

"Both countries are unhappy about the proliferation of Kolpak players and Dave said he would support our efforts to stop the flow of cricketers from South Africa," Arendse told reporters in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Arendse was speaking at the unveiling of a memorandum of understanding between CSA and the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA), which makes all professional players stakeholders in South African cricket and standardises their contracts.

A telling inclusion in the agreement is that any cricketer playing professionally in South Africa has to have a clause in any overseas contract releasing them when required for national duty.

Making oneself unavailable for international cricket is a requirement if a player is to obtain a Kolpak contract.

"The ECB have applied to the European Union (EU) to seek exemption from the trade agreement that allows for Kolpak players and if that doesn't succeed, then Cricket South Africa will join them in raising the issue at ICC level, with the support of the players' association," Arendse said.

"The Kolpak ruling is problematic, it is a very artificial arrangement. But it also means our players are cheap for the counties."

The Kolpak ruling is named after Maros Kolpak, a Slovak handball player, who claimed restraint of trade and won a European court ruling that allowed him to play in Germany.

Around 20 South African-born players, including the discarded Test batsman Jacques Rudolph, are plying their trade in county cricket under Kolpak contracts of varying length.

SACA chief executive Tony Irish said: "For a cricketer to play in South Africa his home needs to be here, he can't just dabble in our cricket. So we want to limit opportunities for players to sign Kolpak deals."


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