Controversy in South Africa over non-white cricket players

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- Two opposition parties in South Africa Thursday took issue with the "interference" of the country's cricket administration boss in the selection of a cricket squad currently playing Australia in a three-match series.
Percy Sonn, who is United Cricket Board (UBC) president, earlier this week exercised a veto right to change the selection at the last minute to include two non-white players - Rodney Ontong and Hershelle Gibbs.
He has, however, come under attack from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Afrikaner Eenheidsbeweging parties following the team dismal performance in the series.
The national team, which for many years barred non-white players from representing South Africa during the apartheid-era, has been under increasing pressure to ensure greater racial representation.
But taking a swipe at the UBC executive, DA spokesman Donald Lee said Sonn owes all cricket-loving South Africans an apology for his interference in the selection of the squad currently under- performing in Australia.
"The only thing Mr Sonn managed to do with his vetoing of the team was to chip away at the team's confidence, leaving certain players wondering whether they deserved to be selected or not," Lee charged.
He said national teams representing South Africa should only have to be concerned about winning when they take to the field, and not whether they were playing because of their race or their skills.
"They should know that they have been picked on merit.
Any interference from a sports administrator that makes our sportsmen lose sight of their goal to win, is a disservice to South African sport, and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms," Lee said.
Equally upset was Afrikaner Eenheidsbeweging leader Cassie Aucamp, who accused Australian Prime Minister John Howard of hypocrisy when the latter expressed support for Sonn's decision.
Aucamp charged that no Aborigines, after all, have ever played for Australia.

04 Janeiro 2002 10:17:00




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