Mixing Politics with Sport

Tariq Engineer

The impending Cricket World Cup (beginning the 8th of February) has brought the question of mixing politics with sport to the forefront of world cricket. Six matches are to be played in Zimbabwe, and both the English and Australian governments have requested that their teams boycott their matches in a show of protest against President Mugambe’s policies.

The Australian and English governments have suggested to their cricket authorities that the matches in Zimbabwe should be boycotted. They recognize the sovereignty of the cricket authorities in their own countries and make a moral argument, instead of ordering their teams not to play.

Now the players and the cricket authorities have signed contracts stating that they will compete in the world cup and play in Zimbabwe.

This has left the boards and the players with a moral dilemma. Do they take a political stand and in doing so break their contracts? Or do they fulfill their legal obligations and in doing so go against their own consciences?

A few weeks ago the English Cricket Board announced that England would go ahead and play its matches in Zimbabwe as it was obligated to do so. The players, however, are still torn and conflicted. They understand the situation in Zimbabwe and feel they should take cognizance of it, and in doing so think maybe boycotting the matches is the way to do it. Either way they have already refused the idea of any of them shaking hands with President Mugambe.

The question then is should the players take a stand on political issues? Should political issues remain within the political realm and leave sports alone? This columnist thinks not. Whatever someone does for his or her livelihood cannot take away from the fact that he or she is a human being first. President Mugambe’s policies have left his people on the brink of mass starvation. It is not a fact to be to be taken lightly. I believe the matches in Zimbabwe should be switched to other venues so that the tournament can go on as scheduled, and at the same time a message is sent to people like President Mugambe that there are consequences for one’s actions.