France Cricket (FC), the governing body of cricket in France, finds itself embroiled in a scandal that has raised questions about the integrity of women’s cricket matches in the country.
Reports have surfaced accusing FC of orchestrating fictitious women’s games to secure funding from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The ICC, in response, has pledged to launch an investigation into the allegations.
The accusations came to light through a local French report, which alleged that FC staged fraudulent matches to bolster the number of games in their records and consequently secure financial aid from the ICC.
Former French women’s international cricketer, Tracy Rodriguez, a former FC board member, expressed doubts regarding the validity of the number of women’s games FC claimed to have hosted.
She revealed that upon visiting several game venues, she found no evidence of any cricket matches taking place.
Instead, she encountered scenes of people having picnics and children cycling around, completely contrary to an active cricket match.
“Two or three times I [went] there, people were having picnics and kids cycling around at the time of the game,” she disclosed. “Then the day after, I would see the results of the games online.”
The report highlighted another incident where the state-owned news television network attended a purported match only to find no game in progress.
However, three days later, FC showcased results of the match on their website.
The financial angle intensifies the seriousness of these allegations. The report outlined that the ICC contributes a substantial portion of FC’s budget, with 60-70 percent of their funds coming from the world cricket body.
Notably, almost half of the ICC funds are specifically intended to bolster women’s and juniors’ cricket in the region.
For 2022, FC reportedly received $320,000 out of their $520,000 budget from the ICC.
The report further pointed out some dubious practices, as noted by James Worstead, the coach of a fourth-division men’s team.
Worstead claimed that FC mandates every club to have both men’s and women’s teams to participate in the top leagues, which has led to alleged falsifications by clubs to meet these criteria.
“Most clubs cheat, they pretend to have a women’s team,” Worstead lamented. “They pay for licenses and then they fake score sheets online … We have refused to fake matches, and that means that even if we qualify, we’re likely to never be able to get a promotion.”
The report also highlighted that FC has fines in place if clubs fail to field a team for games, indicating financial penalties for non-compliance. The fine collections of FC reportedly amounted to €20,210 in 2021, declining to €5,248 in 2022.
The scandal raises serious concerns about the transparency and authenticity of the games being played and documented.
The forthcoming ICC investigation will aim to shed light on these allegations and ascertain the credibility of FC’s practices in organizing women’s cricket in France.