ICC draft position paper: A slap in the face to the Code of Ethics

By Antoinette Muller 27 January 2014

The position paper put together by the BCCI, ECB and CA has gone against the ICC Code of Ethics in every possible way. The chorus of those asking for the paper to be withdrawn is growing, and the paper itself has gone beyond having some points of merit to being something which isn’t even ethical. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

As time draws near for the position paper to be voted on, opposition has grown more fierce. Over the weekend, former ICC president, Ehsan Mani, has joined the chorus of voices opposing it. Two former senior cricket administrators, Malcolm Speed and Malcolm Gray, have also joined in.

The paper, which was seemingly drawn up at the BCCI with an ECB pen in the Cricket Australia boardroom, has been dissected, analysed, criticised and ripped apart since it was first leaked. While there have been smidgens of support or, at least, some saying “it’s not all bad”, the general consensus has been that it is a foolish proposal in general.

Mani’s criticism, like many others, is that the paper, which was drafted in secret, raises concerns over weakness in the ICC governance. He also highlighted that a serious conflict of interest could arise if decision-making power is handed over to just three nations.

“The Paper raises serious governance issues including lack of transparency and conflict of interest. The authors of the Paper (BCCI, ECB and CA) benefit significantly in financial terms from their proposals and promote their own self-interests,” Mani said.

“BCCI, ECB and CA say in the Paper that they will provide greater leadership and stability to the ICC and its Members. In return they ask the Members to hand over powers of the ICC Board to them. They do not demonstrate how they will do this in any meaningful way. They do, however, plan to make significant financial gains for themselves and completely control the workings of the ICC to the exclusion of the other members.”

One of the biggest sticking points of the paper is the way revenues will be distributed. The BCCI, ECB and CA are asking for a bigger cut of the ICC revenues because, according to them, they are the biggest brands and they bring in the biggest share of that money. Proportional distribution does have some merit, but before that happens, an equal share of revenue needs to be divided first. The proposal , according to Mani will see the BCCI pocket as much as $568,000,000 from the 2015 – 2023 revenue while Cricket South Africa has been given just $93,000,000. CA and ECB will all get sums in the $100,000,000 range, the only three countries to earn a decent sum. What the proposal does not take into account is the domestic deals which boards negotiate on their own.

The BCCI, ECB and CA all have domestic deals which bring in a vast sum of money. As noted by Sharda Ugra on Cricinfo, that money doesn’t have anything to do with the BCCI. The three dictators will say that, without them, cricket will implode, but will it really?

It is more likely that it will implode, especially in affiliate and associate countries, under the current proposal. To pay teams bonuses based on where they are in the rankings, how much money they generate for the ICC and so on is not the worst idea, but there needs to be some sort of communism structure in place to ensure cricket survives elsewhere. As a global game, it needs a global financial approach, with everyone who forms part of the ICC ensuring it flourishes. It says as much in the ICC’s Code of Ethics.

Under Fiduciary Duties it is said that: “Directors shall at all times serve the interests of the ICC and the sport of cricket as a whole. Directors shall not promote their own (or a group of) Cricket Board’s interests at the expense of the dignity, integrity or interests of the ICC or of the sport of cricket in general.”

That is the complete opposite of what the three dictators have done. As it currently stands and if the draft is even put to vote, the ICC’s code of ethics is not worth the paper it has been written on.

The code of ethics further mentions conflicts of interest and clearly states that that it is “the duty of Directors not to use their position with the ICC for personal advantage or gain”.

Every single way in which this position paper has come to be has gone against the ethics of the ICC. If this were a business, the big three would be brought in front of a disciplinary committee and discharged from their duties. In this instance, it looks far more likely that their duties will increase and their control will expand.

Now, more than ever, pressure needs to be exerted on the ICC to relook at the way it governs itself. Even if the position paper is not passed, that should not be the end of the road of introspection for the sport’s governing body – it should only be the beginning. DM

Photo: Indian cricket board (BCCI) President N. Srinivasan speaks to the media during a news conference in Kolkata May 26, 2013, after Mumbai Police apprehended Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, a key official of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) Chennai franchise. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri


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