September 5, 2020, Kabul—New research by Integrity Watch on the governance of the Afghan Cricket Board (ACB) shows that while the cricket team has recorded incredible success on the field, the Board itself lacks transparency, accountability and governance & corruption prevention measures. The report highlights that the procedures for the appointment of board members are questionable. In addition, the ACB has failed to provide the necessary physical infrastructure for women to play the game in Afghanistan despite international aid. The research conducted by Integrity Watch took several months and required the intervention from the Access to Information Commission because the board was unwilling to provide the essential information to the research team.
Sayed Ikram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch, stated, “The ACB is faced with multiple governance issues. First and foremost is the politicization of the appointments process of board members and the too frequent changes at executive level.” The Afghan President who holds the prerogative on appointment of the board chairman has not been able to maintain transparency and accountability in regard to leadership changes on the board and has never provided the reasons for changes in the leadership, Mr. Afzali added.
President Ghani changed the ACB leadership four times during the last six years. Nasimullah Danish served from December 2014 to December 2016, then was replaced by Shukrullah Atif Mashal who served until September 2018, followed by Azizullah Fazli who worked for eight months, and the current chair who has been there since May 2019. Mr. Mushtaq Rahim, author of the report, stated, “The research shows that none of the outgoing chairmen left the board on good terms and there has been accusations of corruption, nepotism and differences with players. Additionally, the government has not carried out any performance appraisals on board members or after any of these changes.”
A comparative analysis of cricket board leadership in other countries shows that it is a democratic process in key cricket playing nations. In India, the President of the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) is elected by the regional cricket association for a maximum period of three years. The Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is elected by a board of governors for a period of three years. The Chairman of English Cricket Board (ECB) is also an elected position where the Chairman serves for a period of five years in the office. Mr. Rahim added, “Afghanistan needs to restructure the ACB based on international best practices.”
Ezatullah Adib, Head of Research at Integrity Watch, stated, “Minimum measures such as a proper code of conduct at the ACB are not in place to prevent corruption.” He explained that the anti-corruption code was adopted from the International Cricket Council (ICC) in August 2019 which was immediately after the date of formal request made for this document for the purpose of this study. The document has not been translated into local languages so that the players and officials can use it. Mr. Adib asked, “Why has the ACB not reported on the status of a case that includes allegations of corruption in the 2018 Afghanistan Premier League (APL) by the ICC?”
The report has found out that the ACB’s information sharing practices were also short of the required minimum standards. The ACB has not published its annual audit and in addition there is no evidence that is undergoes an independent annual audit. The ACB website lacks important information and documents and it does not meet the requirements of Article 15 of the Access to Information Law.
Mr. Rahim also asked if it was a coincidence that a good number of players are relatives of board members. He explained, “The study found that a good number of board officials’ relatives have been regularly picked for different teams while comparatively better performing players have been ignored. Although having relations with board officials and senior players is obviously not evidence of nepotism, a lack of policy on dealing with issues of conflict of interest as well as performance comparisons adds weight to the criticism.”
Furthermore, a number of senior players have not met the minimum selection requirements such as playing a certain amount of domestic cricket games or staying for a certain amount of time inside the country but they have been regularly selected in national sides which is a clear breach of the national selection principles. It is noteworthy that two ACB officials faced suspensions imposed by the ACB Discipline Committee but contrary to the decision, the ACB assigned the officials to different roles without any clarification or explanation. Mr. Rahim concluded, “These practices show that the governance structures are not adequate and the enforcement of decisions does not apply to those who are in place at the ACB.”
Mr. Afzali called on President Ghani to order that the ACB constitution be amended in order to set a tenure for board members as well as detailing procedures for their selection to the board. In addition, the ACB requires a thorough organization and policy assessment based on which current policies may need to be revised, new policies introduced, loopholes in staff and management highlighted and the organization overhauled. Mr. Afzali concluded, “This research shows that Afghan cricket team has recorded incredible success in the last two decades but it also shows that until the governance of the ACB is fixed to meet proper best practice governance standards, it won’t be able to provide the vital support and management for the game to achieve its full potential.”
For more information, please contact:
Ibrahim Khan Jabarkhail, 0702028692