World Cup in image rights threat

Arrangements for the Cricket World Cup next spring are being threatened by a dispute over players' image rights. It is the first time that the old game has been confronted by this modern dilemma, but unless it is resolved quickly the damage to the tournament could be catastrophic.

The game, its practitioners, or both, stand to lose millions of pounds if the two parties fail to reach agreement. While it is both unthinkable and unlikely, the players have the ultimate sanction of refusing to participate in the biggest cricket competition of all.

The International Cricket Council are negotiating with the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (Fica), who represent players' organisations in seven countries. The disagreement concerns what players can do to earn money outside the game.

At present the players' contracts for the World Cup state that all personal sponsorship contracts should be put on hold for the duration of the tournament. This would enable the ICC to use players exclusively in harness with the tournament's commercial partners, which leads to the added complication of who gets what. For example, if a player has a contract with the 1910 Fruit Gum Company he would not be entitled to endorse their gums during the tournament. Instead, he would have to make himself available for one of the World Cup's sponsors, who include South African Airlines, Pepsi Cola and Hero Honda.

The discussions are given an added twist by the involvement of David Graveney, who is co-chairman of Fica (as well as chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association in England) and, coincidentally chairman of England's selectors. A possible, if improbable, upshot is that Graveney could be instrumental in picking a squad for a tournament he would advise the players not to play in. It is a delicate conundrum, and the conciliatory nature of the ICC's stance suggests they know it. But they insist the limitation was imposed to protect the tournament's sponsors from "ambush marketing".

The ICC's general manager of cricket, David Richardson, said: "Fica have raised this matter and we are working through some issues to try to arrive at some common ground. Clearly the players should be able to use their image and identities, but it is important that this is not done to the detriment of organisations whose support allows tournaments such as the World Cup to be staged.

"Commercial partnerships are essential to the sport's success and the ICC will ensure that those rights are fully recognised by all cricket's stakeholders. It may take a little time but I am confident that we will reach an agreement."

There may be some room for manoeuvre because the contracts were issued before the present ICC regime took office. Both Richardson and the chief executive, Malcolm Speed, are trying to uphold a position with which they were not originally involved.

Graveney pointed out that the timing of the World Cup should hardly affect existing sponsorship contracts. "It's a potentially huge situation and it's the way sport is going. Image rights might apply to every single cricketer. It's a question of allowing players to fulfil their obligations under their contracts and ensuring they are protected accordingly. There has to be some provision for the players to continue their usual endorsements or sponsorships."

While Fica stress that they represent all cricketers, the ICC privately hope that image rights in reality apply only to a handful of superstars.

Discussions have taken on a note of urgency. Squads of 30 have to be announced by the end of November. Although they will not be pruned to their final 14 until February, the date which counts to all sponsors.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor