The International Cricket Council (ICC) is facing calls to intervene in the “antisemitic” stripping of David Teeger as South Africa captain for the Under-19 World Cup, which has been compared to the actions of Nazi Germany.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) announced on Tuesday it was writing to the ICC demanding it take action against Cricket South Africa (CSA) for removing Teeger as skipper for the tournament over comments he made shortly after the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel.
Teeger was stood down last week, with CSA citing unspecified advice warning of the threat of protests likely to focus on his role as captain after he expressed support back in October for Israeli soldiers.
The decision, made in the same week the South African government launched “genocide” proceedings against Israel at the International Court of Justice, provoked a toxic row and accusations CSA had been put under political pressure.
The opposition Democratic Alliance has said it would lodge a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission unless CSA reversed its decision before the World Cup begins on Friday.
The ICC has now been dragged into the saga by the SAJBD, which also plans a protest outside CSA’s headquarters on Thursday following fruitless talks with the governing body on Tuesday.
It said in a statement: “At a meeting held today, Cricket SA (CSA) categorically failed to provide credible evidence that there had been any real security threats to the upcoming Under-19 World Cup tournament on account of David Teeger being captain of the SA team. This, together with CSA’s vacillating and contradictory responses to the questions put to them reinforces our understanding that the excuse provided for Teeger’s removal as captain, namely ‘security concerns’, is trumped up and bogus.
“Moreover, even if there had been credible information of a possible threat, CSA could, had it chosen, taken appropriate steps to deal with it, such as moving the games or providing additional security.
“The only explanation for why a young Jewish cricketer was arbitrarily stripped of his captaincy must therefore be plain antisemitism. There are good reasons why credible sporting bodies desist from political interference. This should have been the case with CSA, but unfortunately, it was not. Rather, we are seeing high-level political interference with a sinister, discriminatory agenda.
“The fact that the International Cricket Council is allowing this tournament to go ahead is tacit endorsement of CSA’s action. This recalls the infamous surrender of the International Olympics Committee to demands by Nazi Germany that Jews be excluded from participating in the 1936 Berlin Olympic games. Posterity will judge the ICC similarly harshly for its stance.
“We call on CSA to immediately reinstate David Teeger to his position as captain of the SA U19 team. We further call on the international community to protest against this blatant act of antisemitic discrimination on the part of Cricket SA.”
The ICC declined to comment on what it considered a matter for the CSA, which has been approached for comment.
In a statement revealing the news last week CSA said in a statement: “As is the case with all such events, CSA has been receiving regular security and risk updates regarding the World Cup. We have been advised that protests related to the war in Gaza can be anticipated at the venues for the tournament.
“We have also been advised that they are likely to focus on the position of the SA Under-19 captain, David Teeger, and that there is a risk that they could result in conflict or even violence, including between rival groups of protesters.
“CSA has a primary duty to safeguard the interests and safety of all those involved in the World Cup and must accordingly respect the expert advice of those responsible for the safety of participants and spectators.”