Cricket’s international players’ union will support any player who withdraws from a sponsorship engagement at the T20 World Cup amid questions about the ICC Player of the Match award.
The question of the link between players and sponsors has come to the fore in recent days after Pat Cummins pulled out of Alinta Energy ads and Netball Australia’s Hancock prospecting deal.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Multi-million dollar sponsorship makes a splash in netball and cricket.
Watch, stream and catch up with Australia’s home of cricket on 7plus >>
The ICC has announced Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company, Aramco, as a global partner and sponsor of the World Championships Player of the Game awards, starting with the men’s T20 event in Australia.
This has met with some opposition as the environmental sustainability and human rights record of the Saudi government have been questioned.
The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) are believed to have been consulted ahead of the sponsorship announcement but will back each player to offer their views on it.
“Our focus right now is on agreeing the fundamentals of the relationship between the players collectively and the ICC on a global scale,” said FICA CEO Tom Moffat.
“So does the various global employment and regulatory issues that impact players and ensure cricket is in line with global best practices.
“Part of our proposal includes a framework for dialogue on how cricket addresses human rights accountability. In the meantime, if individual players do not wish to be associated with a specific sponsor, we would support that.”
Aramco is also a sponsor of the Player of the Match award in the IPL, where several prominent players have accepted checks bearing the company’s name.
However, there is a feeling that the events of the past few days, as well as the current spotlight on Aramco sponsorships, will prompt players to become more aware of the background to each sponsor.
AAP was also told that the ICC will not sanction players who sit out of the game at the player’s awards ceremony if doing so goes against their own beliefs.
However, ICC practice dictates that no sponsor logo or name appear on the physical award in addition to an on-screen graphic and a fan vote.
Australian spinner Adam Zampa, who is one of the most progressive cricketers thanks to his vegan lifestyle, held back when asked Tuesday if he would accept an Aramco award at this World Cup.
“That’s a good question … we don’t live in a perfect world,” Zampa said.
“The fact that some conversations are already starting about this (is good), but it’s going to be a steep learning curve for everyone.”
Separately, he said Cummins’ position represented a step forward for the sport and the players’ desire to act as role models while balancing finances.
“There needs to be a collaborative approach between players, CA and sponsors,” he said.
“I obviously have some personal views on some of the sponsors that we have at the moment, but the fact that Pat started this conversation is great.”
The Aramco situation will likely remain an issue at next year’s women’s T20 World Championship while the sponsorship lasts until after the 2023 men’s 50-over tournament.
The ICC claims it can seek to drive change through sponsorship partnerships and the organisation’s own steps towards sustainability in cricket.
Saudi Arabia fielded its first women’s cricket team in five T20 tournaments earlier this year, while the ICC helped establish programs for women’s participation.
https://7news.com.au/sport/cricket/cricket-players-union-makes-hard-call-on-boycotting-of-controversial-sponsor-awards-for-t20-world-cup-c-8591717 T20 World Cup: Cricket Players’ Union urges boycott of controversial sponsorship prizes