Birmingham, July 11 (IANS) Using the ongoing World Cup as a platform to spread political messages continued on Thursday as a plane with the message “WORLD MUST SPEAK UP FOR BALOCHISTAN” was flown over the Edgbaston Cricket Stadium again and again during the second semifinal between England and Australia.
It was followed by one which said “HELP END DISAPPEARANCE IN PAKISTAN”. But the International Cricket Council (ICC) is looking to ensure that the air space over Lord’s during the final on July 14 becomes an air exclusion zone.
Commenting on the matter, the ICC said: “We do not condone any sort of political messages at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup. We have worked with local police forces around the country throughout the tournament to prevent the World Cup being used as a platform for political protests, so we are incredibly disappointed these flights continue to take place.
“We are working very closely with the relevant agencies to make sure there is an air exclusion zone in place for manned and unmanned flights during the final at Lord’s.”
The latest developmets came on the back of four Sikh spectators getting expelled from the stadium by the ICC during the first semifinal between India and New Zealand at the Old Trafford on Wednesday for sporting t-shirts with political messages.
Confirming the development, the ICC had said: “We can confirm a small group of fans were asked to leave Old Trafford during the first innings for breaching the ticketing terms and conditions by undertaking a political protest.
“We do not condone any sort of political messages at the World Cup and initially asked the group to stop the protest so they could remain in the venue. When they refused, they were asked to leave. We work with the venue security and local police forces around the country to prevent this type of protest occurring and will continue to do so.”
This isn’t the first time that the ongoing tournament has been used to propagate political messages.
A plane carrying the slogan “Justice for Kashmir” was first seen flying over the Headingley Cricket Ground on Saturday when India played Sri Lanka on July 6. It was followed by another plane which had a slogan “India Stop Genocide & Free Kashmir”. It was further followed by another plane which asked people to stop mob lynching in India.
With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) demanding clarity on the process in place to avoid a ‘political slogan’ fiasco in Manchester for the semifinal game, World Cup Managing Director Steve Elworthy had promised the Indian board that every step would be taken to avoid a repeat. In fact, the stadium was made a no-flying zone for the duration of the game.
On June 29 during the match between Pakistan and Afghanistan, a plane with a banner reading ‘Justice for Balochistan’ flew over the same stadium.
(Baidurjo Bhose can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)