ODI World Cup final: Did PM Modi break ICC rule by visiting Indian players in dressing room?

Modi was seen consoling the players after India lost the World Cup final to Australia

modi-kohli-rohit-pti Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Indian captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the dressing room at the Narendra Modi Stadium after the ICC World Cup 2023 final against Australia, in Ahmedabad | PTI

The six-wicket loss to Australia in the ODI World Cup final on home soil was heart-breaking not only for the Indian players but for all their fans worldwide. India were the favourites to lift their first ICC trophy since 2013, having stormed into the final winning 10 matches in a row. But Australia outplayed them in all departments, at the Narendra Modi Stadium on November 19.

Soon after the final, in a video shared on social media by ANI, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was at the stadium along with other dignitaries, was seen meeting and consoling the Indian players in the team dressing room and interacting with coach Rahul Dravid. He was seen talking to Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, holding their hands, and hugging Mohammed Shami, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament.

While BJP leaders were quick to laud Modi's gesture, Congress called it a “choreographed consolation”.

However, former cricketer and politician Kirti Azad pointed out that the prime minister's visit to the Indian team's dressing room was a violation of ICC's rules. Calling the dressing room the “sanctum sanctorum” of a team, he tweeted that Modi should have met the players somewhere outside, and that he says it as a sportsman and not a politician.

Azad, who was part of the 1983 World Cup-winning team and is now the Goa in-charge of the All India Trinamool Congress, also slammed the BCCI for not inviting Kapil Dev, India's first World Cup-winning captain to the final at Ahmedabad.

What does ICC's rule say?

According to ICC's Minimum Standards for Players' and Match Officials' Areas (PMOA) at International Matches:

3.1.1: As a general rule, access to the PMOA will be restricted only to those individuals whose presence in that area is absolutely essential for operational purposes. Obviously this would include Players, Match Officials and the ICC Anti-Corruption Manager or other ICC ACU staff, but it also includes certain Player Support Personnel such as members of the team coaching staff, medical and physiotherapy staff, team statistician, kit/baggage man, team liaison officer, team media manager and team security manager. Each team manager is required to certify to the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Manager that each Player Support Personnel to whom accreditation is granted has the necessary skills to perform their designated role, for example as physiotherapist or media manager, and that their presence in the PMOA is absolutely essential for operational purposes.”

There is an option for a “temporary visitor accreditation” but even that is for “operational reasons”.

3.1.2: In certain circumstances, temporary ‘visitor’ accreditation may also need to be issued by the ICC Anti-Corruption Manager to any other individuals who may need access to the PMOA from time to time for operational reasons, including, for example, ICC and National Cricket Federation staff and members of the venue’s security, cleaning or catering staff. Such temporary accreditation can only be provided by the ICC Anti-Corruption Manager, who may impose such conditions on the accreditation (including for specific time periods or areas etc) as he/she deems appropriate in the circumstances.

3.1.3: For the avoidance of doubt, and except as described in Article 3.2 [Players, Player Support Personnel and Match Officials], below, no individual, irrespective of their identity, job, role or responsibility, will be allowed to enter, or remain within, the PMOA without displaying an official accreditation pass.”

Neither the BCCI nor the PMO has commented on the matter yet. 

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