Cricket: Pakistan in legal challenge to ICC World Cup move

LAHORE - Pakistan is mounting a legal challenge to the International Cricket Council's decision to move its World Cup matches over security fears, the nation's cricket governing body said today.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said the decision to deprive it of the fixtures was legally flawed, and that it had served notice of the challenge through its lawyer to ICC president David Morgan.

"The PCB believes that the manner in which the decision was taken, with no security assessment of Pakistan or any other host country and without the issue being on the agenda of the meeting, it was legally flawed," PCB chairman Ijaz Butt said.

The ICC last month stripped Pakistan of 14 World Cup matches, including a semifinal, citing the "uncertain security situation" in the country.

Co-hosts India will now host 29 matches inclusive of a semifinal and the final, while Sri Lanka will host 12 matches with one-semifinal and Bangladesh eighth matches and the opening ceremony.

Butt said there was no prior notice that the Cup matches would be moved.

The issue could either be dealt with by the ICC's dispute resolution committee, which is made up of ICC officials, or to independent arbitration before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Butt added.

"The PCB prefer impartial arbitration, in the interest of justice, equity and fair play. The PCB will push for this matter to be expedited so the PCB's status can be restored as soon as possible," he said.

Former ICC President Ehsan Mani also criticised the ICC decision last week, saying the manner in which it had been taken was "ill-conceived" and "made in haste" - a charge denied by the ICC.

Pakistan's already dented reputation as a safe venue was in tatters after attacks by armed militants on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore on March 3 left seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach wounded and eight policemen dead.

Even before the attacks foreign teams had refused to tour Pakistan over security fears in a country locked in an increasingly bloody conflict with Taleban and Al-Qaeda extremists.

In February, the ICC was forced to move the eight-nation Champions trophy from Pakistan to South Africa after several teams refused to tour Pakistan.

Other South Asian countries also faced potential security issues, the PCB said in a statement.

"The ICC executive committee failed to take into account that the law and order situation in the entire sub-continent is not exemplary. Bangladesh faced military mutiny, India was forced to relocate their league to South Africa and Sri Lanka faced a civil war," it said.

"The PCB has not yet received the minutes of the meeting, therefore the exact tenure of the decision is not known," it added.

"The central organising committee of the World Cup 2011 also met in Mumbai last month where Pakistan was not invited."

- AFP


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