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ICC suspends Sri Lanka Cricket for political interference

AFP . Colombo
11 Nov 2023 12:15:33 | Update: 11 Nov 2023 13:20:33
ICC suspends Sri Lanka Cricket for political interference
A physiotherapist treats Sri Lanka's Dilshan Madushanka (L) during the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup ODI match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in India on November 9, 2023 — AFP Photo

The International Cricket Council (ICC) suspended Sri Lanka's crisis ridden cricket board Friday, saying it had failed to ensure there was no government interference in its affairs.

The game's world governing body said Sri Lanka Cricket was "in serious breach of its obligations as a member, in particular, the requirement to manage its affairs autonomously and to ensure that there is no government interference."

The suspension came a day after Sri Lanka's parliament asked the board to resign over allegations made by sports minister Roshan Ranasinghe that it had syphoned off millions of dollars.

The conditions of the suspension will be decided by the ICC board later, it said in a brief statement.

It was not immediately clear if the indefinite suspension would affect Sri Lanka's hosting of the Under 19 World Cup in January.

There was no immediate comment from the board, but an official source said an emergency meeting of the executive committee had been scheduled for Saturday.

"They will try to work out the way forward," the source said asking not to be named. "The main concern is the upcoming 50-over Under-19 World Cup. Loss of hosting rights will be disastrous."

Sri Lanka was preparing to host 16-nation Under-19 World Cup and the board had released large sums of money to refurbish four venues in the capital Colombo.

The crisis involving the cricket board -- the richest sporting organisation in the bankrupt island country -- came to a head after Sri Lanka's humiliating World Cup defeat by India last week.

The Sri Lankan parliament unanimously asked Sri Lanka Cricket's elected board members to resign on Thursday, accusing them of unprecedented corruption.

The board has not yet responded to the parliament's non-binding resolution.

Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa said Thursday's move was a "historic resolution that sends a message to the world that Sri Lankan legislators have united to defend cricket and restore the integrity of the game".

The board is now locked in litigation after it was sacked by the sports minister on Monday, only to be restored the following day by the Court of Appeal pending a hearing in two weeks.

The ICC has rules against political interference and has suspended Sri Lanka before.

Ranasinghe said Friday before the suspension that he was hopeful that there would be no ICC sanctions against the local board.

"I am confident we can talk to the ICC and sort things out," Ranasinghe said in parliament.