Money for England and New Zealand withheld

JOHANNESBURG: The International Cricket Council (ICC) have frozen US$3.5mil owed to England and US$$2.5mil due to New Zealand after they forfeited World Cup matches. 

At a news conference on Saturday ICC president Malcolm Gray the world governing body's executive board had decided to withhold the money because of expected demands for compensation from sponsors and broadcasters. 

England refused to play Zimbabwe in Harare in their Group A match on Feb 13 while New Zealand declined to play Kenya in Group B in Nairobi on Feb 21. 

Both cited concerns over security but World Cup organisers refused to reschedule the games, saying their fears were unfounded. 

All leading sides were due to earn US$9mil from the ICC for taking part in the World Cup in South Africa. 

The ICC had already withheld India’s US$9mil after their players refused to sign World Cup contracts and Gray said any dispute with the Indian board would go to arbitration. 

“If they (India) are not forthcoming then their suspension from the ICC will be contemplated,” he said. 

England’s players refused to play in Zimbabwe after concerns that their matches could spark political protests by opposition parties opposed to President Robert Mugabe’s government. The players also received death threats if they played the game. South African police and security services said the threats were a hoax. 

Zimbabwe’s opposition had opposed the staging of the World Cup matches, arguing they gave legitimacy to Mugabe’s rule during the country’s worst political and economic crisis in more than 20 years. 

New Zealand concerns followed a suicide bombing on an Israeli-owned hotel in the tourist resort of Mombasa in November which killed 16 people. – Reuters 

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