By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Dubai, July 8 (IANS) Exactly four months after suspending its CEO Manu Sawhney, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Thursday sacked him, the world body said in a terse 36-word statement.
“The ICC today announced that Chief Executive Manu Sawhney will leave the organisation with immediate effect. Geoff Allardice will continue as acting CEO supported by the ‘leadership team’ working closely with the ICC Board,” said the statement.
Sawhney, who was suspended on March 9, has five days to appeal to the same 16-member ICC Executive Board that on Thursday decided to sack him. It is gathered that Bangladesh skipped Thursday’s meeting, but that did not make any difference to the final outcome of the meeting.
If Sawhney appeals, his plea could be taken up at the next ICC Board meeting on July 15, though it is highly improbable that the same directors would reverse their own decision. The ICC annual general meeting is on July 18.
Sawhney was appointed ICC CEO in January 2019, when India’s Shashank Manohar was the ICC chairman. The CEO’s tenure lasted a little over two years.
There were broadly four allegations against Sawhney, originally from India. He was accused of “targeted acts of bullying against certain [ICC] staff”; of “physical aggression, such as fist banging”; of having “impacted directly and indirectly on individuals’ health and wellbeing through [his] behaviour”; and, that he did not “properly report to the [ICC] Board and have implemented decisions or changes without proper consultation with the Board”.
Sawhney has been sacked on the basis of a culture review of the ICC employees, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and reportedly cost the ICC up to $200,000. He alleged that he was not given the PwC report initially, and received it only after seven days of his suspension, when he asked for it.
Sawhney, in an apparent final attempt to get a favourable decision, sent a two-page letter to each member of the ICC Board on Wednesday and appealed to them to appoint an “independent ethics tribunal” to hear his case, and “uphold the basic principles of the ICC — accountability, fairness, and integrity”.
On Thursday, however, the ICC Board rejected his appeal.
“Sawhney now has five days to appeal to the ICC Board against its own decision,” someone who has followed the case told IANS. “Interestingly, the Bangladesh Cricket Board did not attend Thursday’s Board meeting.”
After Manohar, a former president of the Indian cricket board, declined to accept a third term as ICC chairman, the election to choose his successor turned out to be a bitter one, with the ICC divided vertically into two camps.
“It was during this indecisiveness of how to choose Manohar’s successor Sawhney was caught in the crossfire,” said an observer.
In his two-page letter sent to the ICC Directors on Wednesday, Sawhney complained that no one has replied to his mails etc.
“Throughout the last few months I have been deeply concerned and saddened by the unfair process which I have been subjected to and which could potentially result in my unilateral removal as the CEO of the ICC. The process has been undertaken without any accountability, transparency, and fairness. It sets a very dangerous precedent at the ICC and undermines the integrity of the ICC Board,” he wrote.
“The Board has ultimate authority over my ongoing employment with the ICC and yet I have grave doubts over whether my case has even been presented to the Board, whether accurately or at all.”
Sawhney also claimed that he even raised his case with the ICC’s independent director Indra Nooyi, but “regrettably, I have not received any response”.