Govt to mount bid for Cup boycott - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Govt to mount bid for Cup boycott

By Rob Taylor 03/01/2003 11:25:31 PM Comments (0)

Australia will mount a major diplomatic effort to convince countries involved in the cricket World Cup to boycott matches in Zimbabwe, as Harare accused Canberra of wanting to keep cricket "white".

Cricket's international governing body on Thursday vowed to press ahead with the six matches to be held in Zimbabwe, ignoring pleas by Prime Minister John Howard and his British counterpart Tony Blair.

Australia and Britain want teams to stay away from Zimbabwe to put pressure on President Robert Mugabe, accused of human rights abuses and election-rigging.

International Cricket Council president Malcolm Gray said boycotts were a political matter for governments to decide.

Mr Howard said on Friday the government could ask the Australian Cricket Board to call off its match in Zimbabwe, but that would not be fair on the world-champion Australian cricket team.

"Obviously the Australian government could unilaterally influence the Australian Cricket Board and stop the Australian team playing in Zimbabwe but as I have said that would be quite unfair," he said.

"It should only be done collectively. It should be one-in all-in, one-out, all-out."

Zimbabwe is co-hosting the World Cup with South Africa and Kenya in February and March, with six matches to be held there, including one fixture against Australia.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia would lobby other countries to boycott Zimbabwe to pressure Mr Mugabe into restoring the democratic process in his country.

"We will be taking a diplomatic initiative, speak to all of the governments of teams which participate in the World Cup," he said.

"And we'll be urging them to communicate with the International Cricket Council, suggesting to the International Cricket Council that it review its decision to allow the matches to go ahead."

Mr Downer said he was unsure whether the lobbying effort would prove successful, although he was confident of support from Britain and New Zealand.

"I think there will be some countries that will be happy to do that and there will probably be some countries that will not want to do that," he said.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff said he would send a message, "not an instruction", to New Zealand Cricket to consider asking the ICC to transfer all World Cup matches from Zimbabwe to other countries.

But South African Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour slammed British and Australian calls for a change of venue.

"We will not support any move to shift matches from either Zimbabwe or Kenya and believe that the ICC should be supported by all 14 participating countries in its decision to go ahead with its World Cup program," he said.

And Zimbabwe's chief government spokesman Jonathan Moyo accused Mr Howard and Mr Blair of racism.

"If the British and the Australians want to keep cricket as a white and colonial sport, then they should do so alone because we are not interested in their rubbish," he said.

"This is obviously not about safety and security, it is just political mumbo-jumbo."

The organisation representing Australia's cricket players, meanwhile, said none of its members or players overseas had been in contact to urge a boycott.

"We've queried other player associations and their players for their thoughts on the matter and we haven't had any feedback at this stage that players as individuals... would want to boycott those particular games," Australian Cricketers' Association chief executive officer Tim May told ABC Radio.

Australian Test captain Steve Waugh said politicians should make the decision about whether his team should play in Zimbabwe.

"If John Howard is stepping in then the Australian Cricket Board will become involved and I think it's up to those people to make a decision," he said.

"The players don't want to be involved in political decisions."

Labor foreign spokesman Kevin Rudd said the ALP welcomed the lobbying effort announced by the government, with Mr Howard having moved from "passive to active mode" on changing ICC policy.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

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