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PCB chief questions why ICC punished Sarfraz despite reconciliation over racist remarks

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Islamabad: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ehsan Mani on Friday said that in the punishment given to captain Sarfaraz Ahmed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for allegedly racist remarks made against South African cricketer Andile Phehlukwayo, bureaucracy seems to have won against common sense.

“As far as we were concerned, an apology had been tendered and accepted and the only question was whether Sarfaraz deserved any punishment,” Mani said, while speaking to ESPNcricinfo.

“I had already said we should pull Sarfaraz out for 2-3 games. I felt very strongly that this has to be a strong message for everyone.”

 

In the second ODI played between Pakistan and South Africa, Sarfraz was heard making controversial remarks directed at Phehlukwayo.

As South African batsman Andile Phehlukwayo got lucky despite playing a risky shot, a stump mic picked up Ahmed saying: “Hey black [man], where is your mother sitting? What prayer did you get her to say for you today?” (Abay kaalay, teri ammi aaj kahan baitheen hain? Kya parhwa ke aya hai aaj tu?)

Following backlash, the skipper apologised to the South African team, and personally expressed regret over the incident to Phehlukwayo, who accepted his apology.

The skipper was then handed a four-match suspension by the ICC on Jan 27 for breaching its Anti-Racism Code. Soon after the announcement by the council, PCB released a statement, saying it was “disappointed with ICC’s decision”.

“The PCB notes the ICC decision on Sarfaraz Ahmed with its utmost disappointment. PCB had anticipated that the matter had been resolved amicably between the two players and the two boards following Sarfaraz Ahmed’s public apologies which were accepted by the player, the Board and South Africa cricket team,” the statement by the board had said.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Mani maintained that the punishment was unjustified. “We had cleared the air. So common sense should have meant that was the end of the matter,” he said.

He added: “We made an apology at all levels and it had been accepted by everyone. We have a good relationship with CSA. For the ICC to jump in because Phehlukwayo was upset and didn’t want a reconciliation process, [and to feel they] have to charge Sarfaraz, that’s where I think a bit of nonsense comes into this. What else can you achieve by sitting them in a room? They’re not school children.”

“Why this bureaucratic process that it didn’t go exactly according to the book in terms of reconciliation with an ICC mediator? We don’t need an ICC mediator,” Mani maintained while adding that the punishment has been given because at some point during the whole episode, the bureaucratic process “overruled common sense”.

Speaking about Sarfaraz’s comment itself, Mani said: “Unfortunately, somewhere the message to the players has gotten missed, or it hasn’t sunk in, or too much time went by without further refreshing. It is a distasteful comment to make at any level.

“The sensitivity in South Africa is understandably very high and it was disappointing the captain made that comment – it would be disappointing coming from any player but the leader of the team more so.”

“Obviously Sarfaraz will be spoken to. The whole team will be told that you have to be very careful. It is also a bit of a cultural issue – the word that he used, in Pakistan it would be ignored. That doesn’t mean the culture is right but the tone wasn’t in any way vicious or vindictive,” Mani said, clarifying that Sarfaraz’s comment will not be taken lightly and that steps will be taken to make sure such instances do not occur in the future.


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FC Pune City financial troubles come to the fore: Report

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Mumbai: Indian Super League has failed to live up to expectations and deliver to the stakeholders to strive and thrive in the competitive world of professional sports. While the ISL clubs are struggling to even come closer to break even, Pune City FC has reportedly become the first club to land in trouble due to heavy deficit accumulated over the five seasons.

The club, reportedly in an estimated deficit of ? 150 crore, is looking for a bailout. According to national daily Times of India the talks about the club being disbanded, transferred to another ownership or moved to a new location next season are gaining momentum.

Pune City FC has been engulfed with uncertainties and confusion over ownership right from its inception in 2014. First Salman Khan was named to be a co-promoter of the club. Then Hrithik Roshan was introduced as a stake holder, but the association lasted for less than two seasons before another Hindi film celebrity Arjun Kapoor came on board as a co-owner.

 

Salman had gone on record to say that he never owned a stake in the Pune-based ISL franchisee.

The efforts are on to bring in a new ownership or form a joint venture to keep Pune City FC afloat, TOI has reported attributing the information to “informed sources”.
“It is almost certain that things are going to change at FC Pune City next season. They were in talks with the Mumbai-City-FC for a merger but apparently that did not work out. Efforts are now on to find a buyer, so it remains to be seen whether the club will remain in the city. At the moment that looks highly unlikely,” the paper has reported.

A Pune City source has confirmed to InsideSport.co that “it’s true that the Pune City and Mumbai City ownerships have had preliminary discussions. But they could not agree to move ahead together. But, the talks about financial crunch and non-payment to the players or other associates are just baseless”.

InsideSport.co also tried to reach out to the Pune City FC management, but calls went unanswered. “Like many other clubs in ISL, we are also looking at strategic investors and this has been on for the last few years. At present, we don’t have any offers, so we can’t say whether the club will remain in Pune or not. We hope the club will (stay),” the paper has quoted a club official as saying.

This is true that even after five seasons, the ISL has not been able to deliver a financial model to assure its franchisees of a fixed revenue with a time frame to break even. Indian Premier League is an exception. Pro Kabaddi League comes closer. With the other leagues, problems still prevail.

Ironically, ISL’s graph itself has failed to move up. But for a few teams and matches, the stands have more often than not been empty. TV ratings have been on a decline, resulting in dissuading potential sponsors. Each franchisee is spending between ? 30-35 crore to maintain and run the team, but revenues remain limited from ? 15-20 crore.

Delhi Dynamos are reportedly considering to shift their base out of the Capital or to move to a smaller stadium in the NCR. The media response to the cash-rich league has been poorer when compared to the “All-India Football Federation’s official league” – I-League.

Even though the ISL has been I-League’s envy in terms of the AIFF support and facilities, the latter has grabbed more headlines in media than the fancied premier professional football rival. ISL have few clubs like the surprise element and strong local fan base Real Kashmir and defending champions Shillong Lajong FC.

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Mohun Bagan write to AFC, requests clarity on Indian football

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Kolkota: I-League side Mohun Bagan have written to the continent’s governing body, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), seeking clarification on the future of Indian football.

Club director Debashis Dutta sent a letter to Dato’ Windsor John, the General Secretary of the AFC, requesting the governing body’s swift action in clarifying the issues regarding the roadmap of Indian football.

The club has referenced the meetings held in 2017 with the representatives of Indian football stakeholders and then later with the delegates from FIFA and AFC which had the roadmap of Indian football on the agenda and writes that they have received no further information from any of the involved parties ever since.

 

Bagan has stated that AIFF, despite several requests, has not provided them with any solution or clarity on the matter. The Kolkata-based club has requested for AFC’s help in getting a faster resolution, with the future of the current top-tier football league, I-League, uncertain.

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No note, no way BCCI can block Pakistan from World Cup

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New Delhi:The Committee of Administrators (CoA) and the BCCI have not prepared any note seeking a ban on Pakistan at the upcoming World Cup and even if such a move is made, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is bound to reject it.

The Pulwama attack, that claimed the lives of over 40 CRPF personnel, has escalated the diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan, the reverberations of which are also being felt in the sporting arena.

Already, Pakistani shooters couldn’t make the World Cup in Delhi, starting Saturday, after not getting visas.

 

And there is a demand for India to boycott its June 16 World Cup clash against the neighbours and the matter is likely to come up on the sidelines of the ICC meetings between February 27 to March 2 in Dubai.

“There is absolutely no constitutional or contractual way this could happen. the ICC constitution allows members the right to participate in ICC events as long as they’ve qualified,” a BCCI official told PTI.

Amid the spiralling speculation, the CoA, comprising Chairman Vinod Rai and former women’s captain Diana Edulji, will be meeting in Delhi on Friday to discuss the issue of multiple bodies claiming representation of Uttarakhand.

But the Pakistan conundrum is likely to cast a shadow on what was to be a routine meet. “We will discuss all possible options tomorrow and do what is best for the country,” Edulji told PTI.

A top BCCI source said even if a note is sent and the ICC agrees to put it out in front of member boards for a vote, India is unlikely to find any support from other nations.

“In case India writes to ICC for Pakistan’s removal, then we have to build consensus first to move a resolution at it’s Annual Board Meeting in April.

We no longer enjoy majority in the ICC board right now. If this goes for floor Test we are certain to lose,” he said.

“Not only that, serious doubts will emerge on our chances to host 2021 Champions Trophy and 2023 World Cup,” he added.

The call to boycott Pakistan has been made by some prominent voices such as senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and former captain and Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) President Sourav Ganguly.

Among the current players, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and pacer Mohammed Shami have called for decisive action to deal with attacks carried out by militant groups.

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