The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) today responded to a statement issued by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in which the PCB criticised FICA for its alleged “careless and cavalier approach” to security issues relating to the playing of the PSL final in Lahore, and stated that FICA has done great disservice to the cause of cricket in general and to Pakistan cricket.
FICA relies on advice given by expert security consultants, Eastern Star International (ESI), in relation to security risks to players and teams who may contemplate playing in what may be considered high-risk cricket environments. ESI are highly credible specialist security consultants with many years of experience working in cricket. ESI has supplied security services over several years to a number of cricket boards and international teams around the world and to the International Cricket Council (ICC).
FICA has gone through a similar process to that followed in previous years relating to players playing cricket in Pakistan. It obtained advice from ESI related to security risks to cricketers playing in the PSL final in Lahore in January 2017.
FICA sent a confidential memorandum to players’ associations and to affiliated cricketers, and their agents, highlighting the advice received from ESI relating to the elevated security risk for them of playing in Pakistan. The elevated risk is in line with advice from government agencies and diplomatic missions of several countries regarding travel by foreigners to Pakistan.
FICA recognises that players play in T20 leagues around the world as individuals and that players make individual choices relating to whether or not they wish to participate in a league or match. FICA’s memorandum to players and player agents accordingly did not advise players not to participate in the PSL final in Lahore, but informed players that they do so at their own risk and that players should check any insurance cover that may apply.
Since the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore Pakistan has played bi-lateral home series matches against ICC full member countries in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for security reasons. The only full member men’s team to tour Pakistan in this time was Zimbabwe in 2015. The ICC declined to send its match officials to Pakistan to officiate in this series for security reasons. A suicide bomber detonated an explosive device outside the stadium in Lahore shortly before the 2nd ODI of the series, killing himself and a policeman.
The PCB is staging all PSL matches, except the planned final in Lahore, in the UAE for security reasons. Several months ago the PCB consulted FICA in relation to provisions of the standard player contract for the PSL. When FICA expressed possible security concerns relating to playing the final in Lahore the PCB was not responsive to FICA on this issue.
“Players around the world from affiliated countries have always looked to FICA to provide them with information relating to security risks of playing in various parts of the world”, said Tony Irish, FICA’s Executive Chairman. “It is our responsibility to provide this information, which we obtain from highly credible security experts, so that players can make informed decisions.”
“We have great sympathy for fans and players in Pakistan who have not been able to consistently watch international teams and high quality foreign players playing cricket in their country for several years. FICA has no vested interest in this matter and is completely independent of the PSL. We consider the PSL a good opportunity for players and we would like to see it succeed. However the safety and security of players is, and will continue to be, a high priority matter for FICA.”