Four weeks ago, I knew nothing of cricket in France.
Today I feel like I’m a character in their own special version of Game of Thrones.
It all started when the governing body, France Cricket, asked me quite innocently if I’d write a piece to help raise their profile.
I informed them that it would be satirical and they agreed.
Read the comments.
They scream of the great passion those involved with France Cricket have for their sport and country.
I was welcomed into the France Cricket Facebook discussion group following that article.
I chatted with some of the more vocal dissenters in regards to my piece. After they realised what it was and its purpose, we had a laugh and moved on.
They are good guys.
They are passionate.
They are cricket lovers.
Many didn’t agree with France Cricket’s decision to ask me to write it (unpaid mind you). They wanted something a little more serious, but you can’t please everyone all of the time.
One of the more interesting chaps, and the guy who runs that Facebook group, is a bloke named Rory Paul.
An Englishman who qualified to play for France after living there for the requisite amount of time.
Rory has recently used the website of the All Out Cricket magazine to make a number of claims against France Cricket.
Please read them before going any further in this piece as they provide context for what you are about to read next.
They are not that long.
See you back in here in 5…….
[WAITS PATIENTLY FOR YOU TO RETURN]
So, how did you go?
Let’s crack in.
The main claims as I can ascertain are that:
1) Two France Cricket Board members flew to Melbourne for an ICC conference that they then didn’t attend;
2) That the President flew back from Melbourne to France via India for a holiday, inappropriately using France Cricket funds; and
3) That meeting minutes have been doctored to show that the board approved flights for the Treasurer to attend. The allegation being that the flights were not approved and the board minutes have been altered.
I got curious.
What if these claims are true?
These are bold claims and Rory states that he has evidence to prove them as true. He claims to me that multiple lawyers, including a barrister and All Out Cricket, have checked the evidence.
Rory and I had a few exchanges. This one was on the France Cricket Facebook group page (that he has now locked me out of for asking questions of his pieces):
Rory, despite numerous attempts to persuade him, has declined to publish his evidence.
I felt it unjustified that he went public with serious allegations, yet wouldn’t stump up any supporting proof.
This was even after I explained to him that I had obtained documents that I believe contradict his allegations.
Things kinda blew up on his end after a while. He blocked me from the France Cricket Facebook group page, and then this on twitter:
In many other exchanges, Rory claims that if France Cricket believe what he is saying is untrue, then they should sue him.
That’s one strategy to defend your position I guess?
Let’s go through these three more serious allegations one by one.
In 72 hours of digging, here is what I found:
Two France Cricket Board members flew to Melbourne for an ICC conference that they then didn’t attend
However, the major flaw with the argument that Mr Balane and Mr Thiyagarajan made good use of their time in Australia is that neither one of the men managed to drag themselves to a single meeting during their time down under.
Below is an ICC letter dated well before Rory Paul’s allegations were published showing that the French Delegates did in fact attend the conference.
How much of it and what exact days, it’s not clear.
Did they attend the two quite specific sessions that Rory Paul thinks they should of, notably:
European Associates and Affiliates meetings 23/06/2014 at 14:30
European Associates and Giles Clarke 26/06/2014 at 09:00
I don’t know.
Make up your own mind about the value of spending time with Giles Clarke.
Did the delegates participate in enough of the conference to be issued a letter from the ICC confirming attendance?
Clearly they did.
Why else would the ICC release this letter prior to any allegations of impropriety?
I have spoken to another person who attended that same conference and asked if it would be normal for a delegate to attend all sessions.
The reply was an emphatic ‘no’.
Given this, I am not sure why has Rory made such a racket about this particular issue, as there doesn’t appear to be one.
That the President flew back from Melbourne to France via India for a holiday, inappropriately using France Cricket funds
I find the second charge of the President flying back via India a little bizarre.
More sinisterly, Mr Balane returned to France via his summer holiday in India, and it is alleged by members of the France Cricket board that the flights from Australia to India, and India to France, were paid for by the organisation. Something which, if true, is deeply troubling.
Firstly, here is a world map.
If the President wanted to travel back via India, why not?
It’s on the way!
Many would fly to Europe via the route: Melbourne – Singapore – India (any number of destination cities) – Europe (any number of destination cities)
You could substitute Singapore for Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. If you didn’t want to stop in India, you could go via Dubai.
I’ve done them all over the years.
They all cost kinda the same amount.
I don’t see why this is an issue, unless France Cricket paid for his Indian hotels and expenses.
This claim hasn’t been made by Rory.
However, I’m not even sure what Rory is trying to say?
Is it that France Cricket shouldn’t have flown the President home at all? That the tickets to Australia should only be a one way fare?
The Treasurer’s Flights
I quote Rory Paul from his first piece on All Out Cricket:
It has been privately claimed by the president that the treasurer paid for his own flights, although typically no evidence of this has been seen. There is suspicion at board level that this particular statement by Mr Balane makes Bill Clinton’s claims about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky look credible by comparison!
Let’s park the fact that Rory hasn’t produced one shred of evidence himself to back up his own claims against France Cricket.
Oh, the irony.
Rory goes on to say in his subsequent piece:
The important statement in the minutes claims that there was a general understanding that Pretheve Thiyagarajan would pay his own way to Australia, and he would accompany the ICC-sponsored president. This aspect of the minutes, if true, would completely disprove the allegations made in my article. It would require a complete and immediate retraction of my statements because, if the treasurer paid his own way to Australia, then there is no financial case to answer.
Now, I can’t comment on the claims about funny business with the minutes. I haven’t seen anything that helps me form a view one way or another. But, if the Treasurer paid his own way, then I don’t see what Rory is complaining about?
To make this one short, here are the Treasurer’s personal booking of his flights.
Here is where he paid the travel agent from his personal AMEX card:
Here is his hotel bill at the Hilton that clearly shows a charge of AUD$1196.00
Finally, here is where the Hilton bill matches his AMEX statement:
Given this, I find it difficult to accept that anything improper has happened.
Perhaps Rory will immediately retract his allegation as he says he will do?
Rory is currently suspended by France Cricket.
He has not avoided this fact.
He claims in his All Out Cricket article that it was because he privately questioned the board on their ambitious plans to qualify for the T20 World Cup.
However, these Board minutes tell a more complete story
Here are the minutes of the France Cricket Board meeting that reference ‘inappropriate conduct’ from the 30th August 2014:
I am led to believe the charge exists because he racially vilified the members of the board via messaging as per below:
I am told that the sledge ‘Foreign Born’ is quite offensive in France.
Who am I to judge?
I am also lead to believe Rory was given ample opportunity to apologise and have his suspension lifted.
He has chosen not to do so.
I have chosen to publish this information about Rory’s alleged misdemeanors as it adds flavour to his potential motives.
All Out Cricket ran with the articles and even discussed it on one of their podcasts.
When asked whether they had vetted the story, Jo Harman of All Out Cricket has tweeted this:
That leads to me believe that All Out Cricket have cited evidence that contradicts what I have produced here.
To be very clear, I have no reason to believe that All Out Cricket have acted unprofessionally or improperly in this matter.
However, why has Rory Paul declined to substantiate his allegations with the proof?
He clearly has something to back his claims else the article wouldn’t have been published.
So, in Rory’s words:
“No more dick swinging. Just publish it.”
I just showed mine.
Time to see his perhaps?
Alternatively, one could reasonably conclude that Rory’s claims are vexatious against France Cricket due to his suspension?
What do you guys think?
Please leave a comment or two 🙂