- Deal with Aramco covers all major ICC events until end of 2023
- Only England players have agreed to snub award but other teams could follow
- Cricketers’ union previously confirmed it would support player action against Aramco
The England women’s national cricket team may boycott the player of the match award at the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup due to the tournament’s sponsorship deal Aramco, according to The Cricketer.
In October, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced a global partnership with the Saudi Arabian energy company, which covered all of its events until the end of 2023. As part of the deal, Aramco acquired the naming rights for the player of the match awards.
The physical player of the match awards do not have any Aramco branding on them but the public vote is sponsored by the energy firm.
According to The Cricketer, some players have voiced their concerns about the presence of Aramco as the award’s sponsor and took a vote on whether they should be obligated to accept it. The report adds that despite the result being an agreement with representatives of England’s women’s team it is not a full boycott and may not even be utilised by the players.
At this stage, it is said that only England players have taken this step, but the possibility remains that other competing teams also implement the policy as word of it spreads.
The ICC, the report says, is unlikely to place any pressure on players to accept the award.
Aramco was named as the largest corporate greenhouse gas emitter majority owned by the Climate Accountability Institute in 2019, producing about four per cent of the world’s total emissions since 1965.
The firm is owned by the Saudi government, with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the head of the nation’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), also the corporation’s chairman. The Saudi government has been accused of human rights abuses, such as torture and suppression of free speech.
The Aramco partnership has been contentious since it was announced. The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) said in the immediate aftermath of the deal’s announcement that it would support players who were uncomfortable with any obligations they had tied to the agreement.
“Our focus at present is on agreeing the foundations of the relationship between players collectively and the ICC at a global level,” said FICA chief executive Tom Moffat to the Australian Associated Press (AAP). “That’s including on the various global employment and regulatory issues that impact players and ensure cricket aligns with the global best practice.
“Part of our proposal includes a framework for dialogue on how cricket approaches human rights responsibilities. In the meantime if individual players do not want to be associated with a particular sponsor, we would support that.”