Government interference in sport – why the ICC suspended Sri Lanka Cricket and what happens next

Government interference in sport refers to regulatory actions taken by a government to influence decisions made by individuals, groups, and organizations on socio-economic matters. Such interferences have led to the provisional or permanent suspension of national sports organizations by international governing bodies.

 This article examines the recent ban imposed on Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), the governing body for cricket in Sri Lanka, by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the global governing body for cricket. Set against the backdrop of the broader sports landscape in Sri Lanka, it initially delves into the reasons behind SLC’s suspension, the jurisdiction enabling the ICC to take such action, and whether this aligns with the ICC’s commitment to a ‘consistent approach’ towards government interference.

It then provides a comprehensive analysis of the approaches taken to political interference by the ICC and FIFA, the global governing body for football. Anchored in the concept of the autonomy of sport, which forms the foundation for addressing government interference, it becomes evident that there is an inconsistency in how different sports federations respond to such interference. The author gives his opinion on why international governing bodies may rigorously enforce their own policies and impose sanctions when interference is perceived as detrimental to their autonomy, but often assume a more passive stance, or appear to overlook non-compliance when governmental involvement brings financial support. This intricate dynamic highlights the complex interplay between sports autonomy and government influence, revealing a landscape where financial considerations may at times overshadow principles of governance.

Government interference in Sri Lanka Cricket
Reaction of the ICC
Is the ICC taking a consistent approach?
The current situation of Sri Lanka Cricket
The autonomy of sport
How the ICC compares to FIFA

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