Pla­tini re­mains de­fi­ant

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — Blink and you would have missed the lat­est in­stal­ment in a process of de­cline which is ac­cel­er­at­ing so fast that one of the great forces in world cricket could be ex­tinct in 10 years.

It was West Indies’ in­nings de­feat in the first of their two-test se­ries in Sri Lanka, all over in lit­tle less than four days and enough to break your heart if you viewed that im­pe­ri­ous side of the 1980s with ad­mi­ra­tion as well as res­ig­na­tion.

At a time when rugby union’s re­ward for seek­ing to ex­pand the game has been a kalei­do­scope of new World Cup tal­ent, cricket’s masters are pro­tect­ing a tight, mon­eyed elite to which the Caribbean does not be­long.

The In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil want to get away with re­duc­ing mem­ber­ship of their 2019 World Cup from 14 to 10 na­tions and one pos­si­ble de­vice, it emerged last week, is to cut the num­ber who qual­ify au­to­mat­i­cally to six. Bye, bye West Indies. They won’t fancy qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

It’s only three weeks since they failed, for the first time, to qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy one-day in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment, con­tested by the top eight sides in the world. Two days be­fore that ig­nominy their coach Phil Sim­mons was sus­pended for declar­ing his un­hap­pi­ness with the team picked for the ODI se­ries in Sri Lanka.

An Econ­o­mist piece on the side’s de­cline by writer Tim Wig­more lays bare the shock­ing sta­tis­ti­cal col­lapse. The West Indies won 71 and lost a mere 20 Test matches against the other eight Test-play­ing na­tions be­tween March 1976 and March 1995. Since June 2000, they have won 14 and lost 78.

This de­struc­tion has, to a sub­stan­tial de­gree, been self-in­flicted. The West Indies Cricket Board and West Indies Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion have been in a state of per­pet­ual war­fare, leav­ing the is­lands’ best play­ers with no com­punc­tion about be­com­ing T20 mer­ce­nar­ies rather than play­ing for their na­tional team. Who, in the Caribbean, wants to watch a sub-stan­dard, un­der-strength cricket team when there is Amer­i­can bas­ket­ball on TV?

But that is only part of the story. As Sam Collins and Jar­rod Kim­ber’s crit­i­cally ac­claimed film Death of a Gen­tle­man re­vealed this sum­mer, the opaque, un­ac­count­able ICC has seen to it that a small oli­garchy of three wealthy cricket na­tions — In­dia, England and Aus­tralia — have be­come richer, while the have-nots are left to get by on scraps as best they can, with West Indies, one of the lat­ter, down in the dust.

The Caribbean is still un­sure whether In­dia will in­flict the grave financial blow on them of re­fus­ing to tour their is­lands in the fu­ture: re­crim­i­na­tion for the West Indies’ aban­don­ing a tour of the sub-con­ti­nent this year be­cause of a pay dis­pute.

The way the ICC dis­trib­utes money is also about to change, to the detri­ment of West Indies, with Aus­tralia and England re­ceiv­ing over $150m each over the next eight years, In­dia over $500m and the West Indies around $80m - $43m less than they would have ex­pected un­der the cur­rent sys­tem, The Econ­o­mist sug­gests. ZURICH — Com­plain­ing that he is be­ing “dragged through the mud” in the FIFA cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Michel Pla­tini (pic­tured) be­lieves he is “bul­let proof” and has not lost sup­port in his bid to re­place Sepp Blat­ter as the head of world soc­cer’s gov­ern­ing body.

The UEFA pres­i­dent, who has been sus­pended for 90 days along with Blat­ter, con­firmed in an in­ter­view pub­lished Mon­day in the French daily Le Monde that he had no writ­ten con­tract for the $2 mil­lion pay­ment he re­ceived from FIFA in 2011.

Risk­ing fur­ther FIFA ethics sanc­tions by break­ing con­fi­den-

Just ask Ire­land how it feels to be among the have-nots. Their ex­cel­lent dis­plays in a tightly-fought ODI se­ries in Zim­babwe this month re­flects a growth which they owe to ex­cel­lent gov­er­nance.

The ICC could not even con­jure the mi­nor imag­i­na­tive leap to pay for a few cam­eras so that it might be found on Youtube. A lit­tleno­ticed press re­lease en­ti­tled “Out­comes from the ICC Board and Com­mit­tee meet­ings” last Tues­day out­lined the new fund­ing regime for smaller na­tions like Ire­land. The shared $55m rise will be mostly eaten up by in­fla­tion.

It is this cli­mate which gives you cause to grieve at the words of Clive Lloyd in his fore­word to the book Fire in Baby­lon, in­spired by the 2011 film of the same name, which cap­tured the high tide mark of West Indies cricket. Lloyd re­flects on what lives most vividly from those times.

“Joel Gar­ner’s deep laugh and the in­fec­tious chuckle of Alvin Kal­lichar­ran… Des­mond Haynes’ raised eye­brows, which were the sign that some kind of horse­play was around the cor­ner.” Lloyd would lean on his bat at the non-striker’s end at The Oval, “in­hal­ing the ex­u­ber­ant buzz that only a West tial­ity rules, P Pla­tini gave a de­tailed de­fensedefe in the case that threat­en­sthreat to end his pres­i­den­tial hopes.

The ex­tra pay for his job ad­vis­ing Blat­ter from 19982002 was “a thin thing be­tween two men,” Pla­tini said,sa giv­ing a new ver­sion of why FIFA could not pay him i in full more than a decade ago.a

“I think it’s shame­ful to be dragged through the mud,” he said, in­sist­ing the case was not a scan­dal.

Pla­tini sub­mit­ted his FIFA elec­tion ap­pli­ca­tion pa­pers be­fore be­ing sus­pended and hopes that his pro­vi­sional sus­pen­sion will be lifted — by the FIFA ap­peal com­mit­tee or Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport — to al­low him to run.

Pla­tini must still pass an in­tegrity check by FIFA’S elec­tion com­mit­tee, which will scru­ti­nize all ap­pli­cants af­ter the dead­line closes next Mon­day.

“I don’t think I’ve lost many votes and those who know me know I can look my­self in the mir­ror,” Pla­tini told Le Monde. “I’m bul­let-proof.”

On Fri­day, Blat­ter told a Swiss broad­caster the pay­ment deal be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by Swiss prose­cu­tors as a “dis­loyal pay­ment” from FIFA funds was a “gentle­men’s agree­ment.”

Pla­tini and Blat­ter are ap­peal­ing against the sus­pen­sions im­posed this month by the FIFA ethics com­mit­tee while it in­ves­ti­gates the case.

The ethics panel has in re­cent cases im­posed strict bans when soc­cer of­fi­cials dis­cussed their cases in the me­dia.

“What an­noys me most is to have been lumped in with the oth­ers,” said Pla­tini, who joins a long list of past and cur­rent col­leagues on the FIFA ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee who have been im­pli­cated in cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions.

Pla­tini told Le Monde that Blat­ter, newly elected as FIFA’S pres­i­dent in 1998, asked him to name his salary to work as a per­sonal ad­viser.

“’How much to you want?’ Blat­ter asks,” Pla­tini told Le Monde. “I re­ply: ‘One mil­lion.’ ‘Of what?’ ‘What­ever you want, rubles, pounds, dol­lars.’ There was still no euro then. He replies, ‘Agreed. One mil­lion Swiss francs per year.’”

The former France great has pre­vi­ously said FIFA did not pay him in full at the time be­cause of the gov­ern­ing body’s financial prob­lems.

Pla­tini told Le Monde that Blat­ter sug­gested that FIFA’S salary pol­icy pre­vented him from hav­ing a con­tract that paid the French­man more than then sec­re­tary gen­eral Michel Zen-ruffinen.

“I worked for sev­eral months with­out pay,” Pla­tini said. “Af­ter a while, I go see Blat­ter: ‘You have a prob­lem pay­ing me?’

He says: ‘Yes, I can’t pay you 1 mil­lion be­cause of the wage struc­ture. You must un­der­stand that the sec­re­tary gen­eral gets 300,000 Swiss francs. You can’t get more than three times his salary.

“So we’ll write you a con­tract for 300,000 Swiss francs and pay the rest later. And that’s what hap­pened. Only later never ar­rived.”

Pla­tini said he in­voiced FIFA for 2 mil­lion Swiss francs in 2011 be­cause he mis­tak­enly re­called that he had been paid 500,000 Swiss francs an­nu­ally at the time, and not 300,000.

FIFA paid Pla­tini in Fe­bru­ary 2011, weeks ahead of a pres­i­den­tial con­test be­tween Blat­ter and Mo­hamed bin Ham­mam of Qatar, who both sought Pla­tini’s en­dorse­ment. — AP

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