Cricket World Cup 2019

ICC vows action against violent fans

LONDON • Cricket's governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), says it will take action against any fans involved in a brawl before the Cricket World Cup match between Pakistan and Afghanistan on Saturday.

Videos on social media showed supporters of both sides fighting outside the venue and security personnel being forced to intervene. ESPNcricinfo reported at least two fans were evicted from the ground.

"We are aware of some scuffles among a minority of fans and are currently working with the venue security team and the local police force, West Yorkshire police, to ensure there are no further incidents," an ICC spokesman said.

Local media reported that the trouble started when a plane towing the message "Justice for Balochistan" flew over the venue.

Balochistan is the largest province in Pakistan and borders Afghanistan to the north.

"We work with local police forces around the country to prevent this type of incident occurring and were assured that given Headingley (where the match was held) is under the flight path for the Leeds Bradford Airport, it would not be an issue," the spokesman added.

"We do not condone any sort of political messages at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup."

Things could have turned even more explosive had Afghanistan, who have yet to record a win, managed to pull off one of the biggest shocks in the tournament's history.

Pakistan narrowly won by three wickets with just two balls to spare to keep their World Cup hopes alive, but their third straight victory has now lifted them into fourth place above hosts England.

Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed said: "It is a great win for us on not an easy pitch. We all know that it is not easy to win our last four games."

Prime Minister Imran Khan, a former World Cup-winning skipper, also tweeted his congratulations to the team for "keeping their nerve under pressure".

If Pakistan win their final game against Bangladesh and England fail to win both of their last two matches, they will be almost certain to qualify for the semi-finals.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2019, with the headline 'ICC vows action against violent fans'. Print Edition | Subscribe