SA Cricket at Crossroads

07 Nov 2019

The chasm between Cricket South Africa and the country’s players looks set to widen following an explosive statement from the players union that demands an independent investigation into a variety of matters at CSA and calls into question CSA’s suspension of three senior officials.

Stuart Hess of writes that the South African Cricketers Association, which represents over 300 professional players, expressed shock at the decision to suspend interim Director of Cricket, Corrie van Zyl, Chief Operating Officer Nassei Appiah and the Head of Sales and Sponsorship, Clive Eksteen.

Cricket SA suspended the trio early last week following a staff meeting in Johannesburg. The organisation claimed the trio were “derelict in fulfilling their duties,” as it pertained to the payment of money owed to SACA and the country’s players for use of their image rights in last year’s Mzansi Super League.

However, SACA painted a very different picture a few days later.

“We are very surprised that Naasei Appiah, Corrie van Zyl and Clive Eksteen have been suspended in relation to allegations surrounding CSA’s non-compliance with the 2018 MSL commercial agreement,” said SACA’s Chief Executive, Tony Irish. “SACA didn’t deal with Appiah on this issue and in its dealings with Van Zyl and Eksteen over many months they both expressed a strong desire to resolve the payment issue, but it eventually became clear that higher approval to do so was necessary. We think it’s highly unlikely that CSA’s Chief Executive, Thabang Moroe, would not have been aware of this ongoing issue. He was undoubtedly aware of payment obligations, as he had signed the agreement.”

That agreement related to last year’s MSL image rights. Two weeks ago, SACA stated it was launching a dispute against CSA for not paying the agreed-to fees - understood to be in the region of R2.4-million. Subsequently, the suspensions occurred and the money was immediately released to SACA.

However, SACA pointed out that it should never have given notice of a dispute as CSA - and Moroe - were constantly made aware of the fact that payment for last year’s image rights had not been made.

Only once the players were needed for activations related to this year’s MSL, was the matter over image rights resolved, said SACA.

“SACA also believes that CSA’s persistent refusal to comply with the 2018 MSL agreement for such a long period was simply part of a much wider, systematic attempt to marginalise SACA and the role that it plays in protecting the collective interests of the players,” said Irish. 

In the same statement, SACA outlines just how badly the relationship between it and CSA has broken down since Moroe became CEO. In fact, SACA took CSA to the High Court at the end of May seeking to overturn CSA’s decision to restructure domestic cricket, which the association claims will cost up to 70 players their contracts, while those still employed will be paid less.

Those proceedings have dragged on for months due to CSA’s failure to comply with the court’s timelines.

While CSA claimed it was conducting an investigation into the conduct of Appiah, Van Zyl and Eksteen, SACA have asked that not only must that investigation be widened, but it should be conducted by an independent entity.

“We also note the statements of CSA’s Head of Communications, Thamie Mthembu, that CSA’s investigation would go deeper into uncovering how the MSL dispute came about,” said Irish. “SACA accordingly calls upon CSA not only to ensure that its investigation into this MSL issue is conducted by an independent person, or organisation, but also that an independent investigation is conducted into these related matters (concerning the restructuring of domestic cricket and CSA's financial state). We believe that this will ensure that the principle of accountability, referred to by CSA’s Chief Executive, is in fact applied equally, fairly and without fear or favour.”

CSA has responded by saying it won’t engage with SACA via the media.

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