'Surrender' to host World Cup
By Rickey Singh
April 8, 2007
BRIDGETOWN -- Sign on, or lose the opportunity to host Cricket World Cup 2007.
That, basically, was the choice given governments of the eight host countries for the historic event, according to officials of at least three Local Organising Committees (LOCs).
The details, against which some countries unsuccessfully fought before all surrendered, are located in a controversial Host Venue Agreement (HVA).
Insistence on non-negotiable changes came early from the West Indies Cricket Board's wholly owned subsidiary, Cricket World Cup West Indies Inc, at the behest of the International Cricket Council (ICC), owners of the World Cup.
As explained by officials of LOCs, as well as sports and tourism representatives this past week, the refusal to make changes to the HVA was "tantamount to a form of blackmail" and a court of law should be able to determine that the "agreement was substantially in favour of the ICC".
Having won the bid to host the World Cup, and with arrangements under way for the historic event, the "pressures for compliance became enormous knowing that we had to collectively show unanimity", said LOC officials who requested anonymity.
The stipulated conditions to which the West Indies Cricket Board had committed itself in negotiations with the ICC, through its corporate interest, CWC West Indies Inc., included -- security arrangements, overseas marketing with "packaged deals" for tickets, travel and accommodation arrangements and entrances for the 51 matches over a 47-day period from March 13 to April 28.
A controversial procurement process pursued by CWC Inc, by which one major United Kingdom-based tour operator was given preferential treatment, in the face of strong objections by regional operators and hoteliers, was also early brushed aside.
Initial protests on other matters from at least four host countries had to also eventually give way in the face of insistence for "uniformity" in compliance with ICC demands before the signing of the HVA document.
Antigua and Barbuda's Sports and Health Minister, John Maginley, who chairs his country's LOC, is on record with his own frustrations by declaring that "on several instances" he and others (LOC representatives) had "fought with the ICC to get them to temper their demands and their expectations with reality" -- but to no avail.
In Barbados, former Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Sir Erskine Sandiford, told yesterday's Saturday Sun that the stipulated regulations to which the CWC Inc had genuflected to the ICC for hosting the World Cup were "more intrusive than demands of the International Monetary Fund..."
Now, in the face of dwindling revenue expectations (originally estimated at approximately US$500 million by ICC/CWC Inc and shared at ministerial briefings), the host countries’ collective intake could be less than one fifth, according to current assessments.
Meanwhile, initiatives are being pursued by some LOCs and affiliates of the WICB to demand that a "due diligence" exercise be undertaken, as a matter of priority, to determine the extent to which countries had to suffer "financial losses, as well as national pride" by virtue to "dictated" arrangements to host the World Cup.