South Africa facing bombshell ban from international cricket

Faf du Plessis, pictured here after a Test match against Australia in 2016.
Faf du Plessis and the South African cricket team are facing a ban from international cricket. (Photo by Ryan Pierse - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images/Getty Images)

South Africa is facing a potential ban from international cricket after its government said that it intended to intervene in the affairs of the sport’s national body following revelations of serious misconduct by senior officials.

The statement from sports minister Nathi Mthethwa said he had informed the International Cricket Council (ICC) of the intended action.

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The ICC’s constitution forbids government interference and the punishment is normally a ban from international games for the country’s teams until the national cricket body is operating independently again.

It all puts a question mark over England’s proposed trip to South Africa next month. The visitors are pencilled in for three one-day internationals and three Twenty20s in November and December, though talks about the tour are ongoing given the complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ICC confirmed it had received notice of “potential intervention” from the sports ministry but no complaint of interference yet from Cricket South Africa (CSA).

“Members are encouraged to resolve matters directly with their governments. We will continue to monitor the situation,” the ICC said.

Long investigation into South African cricket body

The tension between the government and CSA relates to a long-running investigation into the affairs of the cricket body, which resulted in the firing of CEO Thabang Moroe for serious misconduct in August.

But CSA refused to make the report by independent investigators public and also resisted an attempt by the government-aligned South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee to conduct its own investigation into CSA.

CSA ultimately relented and publicly released a summary of the forensic investigation’s findings this month, more than two months after it received the report.

CSA was also forced to hand over the full report, nearly 500 pages long, to a committee of South African lawmakers last week after they demanded to see it.

Thabang Moroe and Morne Morkel, pictured here after a Test match between South Africa and Australia in 2018.
Thabang Moroe and Morne Morkel after a Test match between South Africa and Australia in 2018. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The parts of the report that have been publicly released revealed serious misconduct and possible acts of corruption and implicated Moroe and former chief operating officer Naasei Appiah in the wrongdoing.

CSA is currently operating with an acting president and an acting CEO, and the board has been severely criticised for failing to act to stop the misconduct during Moroe's tenure.

On Wednesday, Mthethwa said a series of meetings with CSA “to try and assist CSA to stabilise its governance matters” had come to nothing and accused the cricket body of being uncooperative.

“I have now reached a point where I see no value in any further engagement with CSA,” Mthethwa said.

The sports minister gave cricket officials until October 27 to argue why he shouldn't intervene.

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