FICA not anti-Pakistan: federation chief

We did not actively attempt to persuade Zimbabwe against touring Pakistan, says Irish

Emmad Hameed July 08, 2015
Caption SECURITY RISK STILL THERE: Irish said he would urge all cricket-playing nations to start visiting the country when the situation improves. PHOTO: FILE EXPRESS

KARACHI: Tony Irish, Executive Chairman of the Federation of International Cricketers Association (FICA), has vowed to extend full support to the restoration of international cricket in Pakistan once the situation in the country stabilises.

Irish and some leading FICA members drew the ire of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and cricket fans in the country after their discouraging statements on Zimbabwe’s tour of Lahore last May.

However, in an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Irish clarified that his body did not give any directions to the Zimbabweans and simply shared their opinion when asked by foreign media.

Read: Zimbabwe team advised not to tour Pakistan for upcoming series by FICA

“FICA didn’t actively attempt to persuade Zimbabwe not to tour Pakistan,” said Irish. “Their players are not affiliated with us and didn’t ask us to get involved in this issue. But when we were asked for a comment on the tour, we stated that we believed that the security risks remained at an unacceptable level. This was following the advice of our consultants [Easter Star International].”

Irish is keen on dispelling the impression that his body is not supportive of cricket in Pakistan. “We are well aware of how much Pakistan fans and players have missed international cricket and would be supportive of other countries returning to Pakistan when it is safe to do so,” said the chief.

Irish clarified that no one from FICA has toured Pakistan for a while now and would continue to rely on the advice of their consultants. “The fact that two people were killed outside the stadium in Lahore during the second ODI remains a concern,” he said.

‘FICA will remain the only global cricketers’ federation’

Irish is focused on brushing aside the view that FICA is a largely fractious body that only represents few players from around the world.

The South African believes that the pursuance of the rights of professional players would continue to be their prime agenda. “FICA will remain the only cricketers’ federation. We will continue to stand up and engage the International Cricket Council [ICC] on issues which affect players across the world. Besides, there is also a lot of work done by FICA which isn’t publicised. We play central role in promoting practices between various associations around the world.”

Read: Pakistan benefits from us even without an association, says FICA executive chairman

Irish added that the federation always looks out for other similar bodies and often helps and supports other players associations in setting up education and welfare related programmes along with passing on the requisite information to others.

Since its early days, FICA and ICC have rarely seen eye to eye, with former head of the federation Tim May reportedly having grown ‘tired’ of ICC’s highhandedness.

However, Irish wants to dispel the notion that his body is on a collision course with the governing body of the game. “Our intention is not to set a collision course with the ICC but to stand up for the principles we have stated in our agenda even if some of the administrators don’t agree with us,” he concluded.