A top official in Zimbabwe has accused Britain and Australia of trying to keep cricket a "white and colonial" sport. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was reacting to British and Australian statements calling for cricketers to boycott World Cup matches early next year in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Moyo's comments appeared in the government-controlled Herald newspaper. He said cricket was an elitist white sport and said countries like Britain and Australia wanted to keep it that way.
Mr. Moyo said the two prime ministers were motivated by a desire to keep the media spotlight on Zimbabwe. "This is obviously not about safety and security," Mr. Moyo was quoted as saying, "it is just political mumbo-jumbo."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, citing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, has said his government is opposed to England playing in Zimbabwe. But he says he has no power to stop the team from going, and would leave the final decision to the English cricket board.
Australia's prime minister, John Howard, told an Australian television station that the sport's governing body, the International Cricket Council, should review its backing for Zimbabwe. He cited the "appalling human-rights abuses occurring in that country."
If international cricketers play in Zimbabwe, it is unlikely they will see anything of the crippling food and fuel shortages in the country. A source in the cricket world in Harare said the teams would stay in five star accommodations where imported food is plentiful.
Six of the 54 World Cup matches are scheduled to take place in Zimbabwe; the rest will be held in South Africa. The competition lasts from February 9 to March 23.