The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 encounter between India and Pakistan in Manchester on June 16 is the marquee clash of the tournament. However, there are growing calls for India to boycott the game after the Pulwama terror attacks in February which killed 40 CRPF jawans. Players like Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh have called for India to boycott the clash while Vinod Rai, the head of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) has called for ‘isolating Pakistan.’ Rahul Johri, the CEO wrote a letter to the ICC calling for member nations to snap ties with ‘nations that support terror’, which was an indirect dig at Pakistan.
However, ICC CEO Dave Richardson has made it clear that he foresees no threat for the India vs Pakistan clash as both teams are bound by an agreement. “For ICC events, all teams have signed a members' participation agreement which requires them to participate in all the matches of the tournament and (in case of) any unjustified non-compliance with that provision, the playing conditions will kick in and the points will be awarded accordingly (to the other team). The ICC's motto is clear we don't want to mix politics with sports,” Richardson reiterated.
The Pulwama terror attack continues to be an emotional topic for India and their sporting personalities. Recently, Indian cricket team players wore army-style camouflage caps during the Ranchi ODI against Australia in order to pay tribute to the armed forces and also raise funds for the families of the CRPF jawans who were killed. However, Pakistan raised an objection with the ICC accusing India of politicizing the game but Richardson said permission was taken by the BCCI to sport the caps.
“In this case, it was a one-off consent. It was granted subject to the message around the wearing of the caps simply being sympathy with the people, who had lost their lives in the (Pulwama) attack and in particular, to help them raise funds for the families of the people who had lost their lives,” Richardson said.
The decision on whether the India vs Pakistan World Cup game will go on will now depend on the decision the Narendra Modi government takes.