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September 19, 2002
2210 IST

Pool A:
Aus | Ban | NZ

Pool B:
Ind | Eng | Zim

Pool C:
Ken | SA | WI

Pool D:
Ned | Pak | SL

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Players’ body takes on ICC

Faisal Shariff

It was all very hush hush -- no fuss, no noise, no media [how I got in is a different story].

The Federation of International Cricketers Association called a meeting, and players from nine Test-playing nations gathered, this evening, at the Crystal Room of the Taj Samudra. The sole exception was Bangladesh, which was not asked to sit in.

And yes, the Indian team was represented by almost all players present in Colombo for the ongoing Champions Trophy.

The stated goal of the meeting was to educate players about their rights, and to force the International Cricket Council to accept FICA as the official representative of the players.

Tim May, joint chief executive of FICA, addressed the meeting and urged the need for players to have a collective voice when dealing with authority. Sharing the dais were FICA managing director Richard Bevan, South African batting legend Barry Richards, and former England captain David Graveney.

From the tone of the speeches, it was obvious that the recent face-off between players and the ICC on the question of contracts had got the alarm bells sounding. Loud. May, on behalf of FICA, warned the assembled players that as the powers of the ICC grew, it would create a situation where that body would -- and could -- make decisions that directly or indirectly affect players from all countries.

The ICC, May told the assembled players, plans to have five ex-players represent the geographical regions, as players’ representatives. This would mean, among other things, that the ICC was deciding who should represent the players and, in the process, denying FICA a role.

May called on the player associations to send official letters to the ICC, asking that FICA be recognized as their official representative body.

"The ICC has gone and sold your images to the sponsors without permission," May said. "You don't want a situation where a player is standing next to Pepsi and endorsing it for free. He needs to be paid for the personal endorsement."

May pointed out that the the restrictions on the personal player’s sponsors, as per the ambush marketing clause drawn up by the ICC and which provides for a 30-day window on either side of an ICC event, is unlawful and in violation of existing contracts.

The trickiest part, May pointed out, was the financial deal the ICC has entered into with the Global Cricket Conference. "Monetarily, it is a great deal worth $550 million, that was signed two years ago. However, with the markets crashing, the $550 million deal won’t be worth half of that in the present environment. Newscorp is basically looking to get out of the deal with the ICC -- and until we renegotiate, the whole deal will fall down."

The players, he said, would need to balance that and the first step was to determine the flexibility of the terms with the ICC.

He accused the ICC of playing fast and loose, first telling the players there is no room for negotiation, then saying things could be worked out. If the ICC claimed to be a transparent body, then it should show the agreement it had entered into with the GCC to the players or to FICA, as their representative.

Warning the assembled players that the ICC making deals on its own could harm the players' market value with sponsors, May said the ICC should be forced to assure players that it will consult them on all future agreements, before they are signed.

It is important, he pointed out, that the ICC not be allowed to break down the collective strength of the players. "We must meet the ICC together. The players' representatives should be of the players' choice, and not decided by the ICC or the boards."

May pointed out the danger of not facing down the ICC at this point. In the last ICC meeting in Dubai, earlier this year, the global governing body of the game contemplated banning players who don't sign player agreements here on in, he pointed out.

"According to the legal advice that the FICA took, the move by the ICC would be inappropriate and illegal. Our solicitors termed it as outrageous behaviour."

At the end of May’s speech, the players were issued a "FICA PLAYER SURVEY 2002" form that covered the players’ relationships with governing bodies, playing conditions and the future of the game.

The results will be distributed to all player associations, and also to various media outlets.

The Contract Row - The Complete coverage


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