CSA interim board hope to 'encourage and not compel' Proteas to act on Black Lives Matter

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Kagiso Rabada celebrates wicket in T20I for the Proteas
Kagiso Rabada celebrates wicket in T20I for the Proteas
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  • Cricket South Africa's interim board chairperson Judge Zak Yacoob stated it was "national interest" that the Proteas support and address discrimination, indignities and exclusions.
  • The interim board stated that they will not "compel" the Proteas to act and change their stance over the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Yacoob added that the interim board will remain "engaged with this issue" as they look to turn CSA around.

Cricket South Africa's (CSA) interim board released a statement on Friday regarding the organisation's handling of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The movement has an added issue in CSA's growing list of troubles in 2020.

Back in July, the Black Lives Matter movement became a hot topic in South African cricket after Proteas fast bowler Lungi Ngidi shared his support for the movement.

Ngidi's views caused a few ex-South African cricketers, including Rudi Steyn, Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar to hit out, arguing that "all lives matter"

Since then former players of colour have come out not only to support Ngidi but to share their tales of mistreatment and experiencing racial inequality - the most notable story coming from Proteas legend Makhaya Ntini's heartbreaking revelation.

Later in July, CSA launched the Solidarity Cup or 3TC, where all players, coaches and management took a knee at Centurion.

In August, the Proteas attended a culture camp in Skukuza where they had frank discussions on where they had come from, culturally, and where they wanted to go.

International cricket finally returned to South Africa in November as the Proteas took on England in a T20 series.

CSA along with the Proteas decided not to knee but instead wear a black armband in the opening two T20s in honour or Covid-19 victims and gender-based violence.

The Proteas did not wear a black armband in the final T20 at Newlands.

In a CSA statement on 25 November, it stated that "together, we are exploring [in a continuing way] the significance of taking the knee and a raised fist".

Interim board chairperson Judge Zak Yacoob admitted on Friday his concern about the implications of the statement and "believes that the subsequent public and media criticism has justified these concerns". 

"The chairperson noted in a letter to Director of Cricket Graeme Smith and Coach Mark Boucher on the same day as the players’ statement that while the Interim Board (IB) respected the constitutional right of individuals to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the constitution, the IB felt that 'we should embrace every aspect of our constitution' fully as South Africans and show 'the world that all of us are together in opposing racism at every turn'," read the CSA interim board's statement.

For two of three T20s against England at Newlands, two sizeable banners were visible in the stands reading: We stand in solidarity against racism & gender based violence. The banners were absent at the T20 in Paarl.

Judge Yacoob explained that while the interim board could not compel the national team to act, it would encourage the Proteas to continue with their stated intention of engaging with this issue.

Yacoob said it was in the "national interest that our sports representatives reflected the constitutional imperatives for South Africans to address lingering discrimination, indignities and exclusions". 

The CSA interim board expressed their full support for the Black Lives Matter movement and feels that it has a particular meaning given the country's past.

"The IB re-affirmed the significance of the current world-wide movement against systemic racism in sport, noting that it was not a sectarian political cause but a broad social justice campaign garnering wide support from athletes all over the world, bringing together a coalition of support across national, racial, class, religious and generational lines.

"The IB feels Black Lives Matter has a particular meaning given South Africa's apartheid past. Therefore, the IB has confirmed CSA's support for BLM - first expressed on 9 July in the aftermath of the letter sent to CSA by 36 former national players and senior coaches."

The chairperson revealed that the interim board will continue to engage and discuss the issue.

The CSA interim board also announced that they've put the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) initiative, which was launched by CSA this year, on hold.

"It [the interim board] had also applied its mind to the SJN initiative and subsequently placed it on hold, pending further consideration which includes obtaining legal opinion from legal counsel."

- Compiled by Lynn Butler

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