‘Black Lives Matter’ – Get the players involved

Professional cricketers are required to undergo educational training about match-fixing and sign a contractually-binding pledge to report any approaches from book-makers or fixers which may compromise them or their team-mates. Failure to report approaches, or knowledge of match-fixing amongst team-mates or even the opposition, can result in the same punishment as complicit involvement.

Why isn’t racism and prejudice treated the same way? If South Africa’s 300+ professional cricketers were educated to understand that turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to incidents of bias and abuse were as unacceptable as implementing them, perhaps attitudes might change.

Match-fixing and racism are remarkably similar when it comes to ‘policing.’ Both can leave innocent players thinking: “Is that what I think it was?” They can both look and sound suspicious, but the fear of repercussions from a misinterpretation of events often leads to players keeping quiet.

Nonetheless, the ‘failure to report’ clause has had a significant effect in controlling spot-fixing and it could have an equally beneficial effect in eradicating racism. There is no difference between ‘heat-of-the-moment’ comments on the field and muttered insults in the privacy of the change-room. No difference at all. Just as there is no difference between sober infidelity and the drunken sort. It’s the same thing.

If the country’s cricketers were required to sign up to such a declaration they would, at least, know that their careers could be affected by non-compliance. There is no reason why racism, homophobia or religious intolerance should be treated any more lightly than match-fixing. They are equal scourges of the game.

As far as all my friends and colleagues have explained, I understand the BLM movement to be about promoting equal opportunity, not preferential treatment. It is about speaking truth, not deflecting ability from one skin tone to the next. Anybody with paler skin who has a problem with that, has a far greater problem.

For the last six months I have written a series of articles urging the Cricket South African Board to resign for the good of the game, which is in a financial and administrative crisis. Sponsors have left in droves and, in the case of Standard Bank and Momentum, have done so with appeals to CSA to sort out their administrative diligence. They have all been ignored.

Two weeks ago I wrote of the CSA Board’s attempts to remove themselves from the findings of a forensic financial and structural audit following the suspension of CEO Thabang Moroe. CSA president, Chris Nenzani, issued the following denial:        

“The Board cannot make changes to the terms of reference because it does not have the authority to do so. Given that the first part of the report has been concluded, the board needed authorisation from the Members’ Council to access the report in order to execute the actions it needs to take, using that report as a point of departure.”

Nenzani steadfastly refused to address the issue of the motion which had been presented to the board just a few days earlier: (the bold letters are mine.)

“The board is authorised to request and receive certain information/reports from the consultant, which information/reports the CSA board of directors requires to carry out certain actions in the organisation from time to time. Such requested information/reports shall specifically exclude any information/reports related to the investigation into the conduct of the Board and the Members' Council as envisaged in these terms of reference.”

Just as intended or planned racism is as bad as the real thing, so is premeditated fraud. Fraud and deception carry the same charge in a court of law should they be conceived or concluded.

There was a CSA Board meeting on Tuesday evening. Hopefully the directors resolved to look each other in the eye and tell the truth rather than blaming their imminent demise on the media, whatever the colour of their skin. Nenzani promised stakeholders and the media that the results of the forensic audit would be available last Thursday, July 16th.

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