David Teeger removed as South Africa captain for U-19 World Cup

David Teeger has been relieved of the South Africa Under-19 captaincy a week before the World Cup over concerns for his safety following his comments in support of Israeli soldiers in the ongoing conflict with Palestine.

Cricket South Africa are bracing for protests at the tournament, which begins on January 19, and said there was a risk that they could “result in conflict or even violence, including between rival groups of protestors”.

The decision to remove Teeger as captain, CSA said, was taken “in the best interests of all the players, the SA U-19 team and David himself.” He will continue to remain with the squad as a player and a new captain will be named “in due course”.

South Africa’s campaign begins next Friday in Potchefstroom, where they will play West Indies, followed by matches against England and Scotland. The tournament, which was moved from Sri Lanka last November, will also be played in Benoni, which will host the semi-finals and final, Bloemfontein, Kimberley and East London and CSA expects protests at all of them.

“As is the case with all such events, CSA has been receiving regular security and risk updates regarding the World Cup. We have been advised that protests related to the war in Gaza can be anticipated at the venues for the tournament,” CSA said in a statement. “We have also been advised that they are likely to focus on the position of the SA Under-19 captain, David Teeger, and that there is a risk that they could result in conflict or even violence, including between rival groups of protestors.

“CSA has a primary duty to safeguard the interests and safety of all those involved in the World Cup and must accordingly respect the expert advice of those responsible for the safety of participants and spectators.

“In all the circumstances, CSA has decided that David should be relieved of the captaincy for the tournament. This is in the best interests of all the players, the SA U19 team and David himself.”

There has already been at least one incident in relation to Teeger’s appointment as South Africa’s U-19 captain at a cricket match in the country. A group of pro-Palestinian supporters picketed outside the main gate at Newlands during the New Year’s Test between South Africa and India. They were then escorted by police to a specifically designated spot from where they continued to question Teeger’s selection. Another group of fans sat in the North Stand with Palestinian flags during the game. CSA expects the numbers of protestors to escalate in light of Teeger’s dedicating an award to the soldiers of Israel last year.

On October 22, 2023, Teeger was named the Rising Star at the ABSA Jewish Achiever Awards ceremony and in his acceptance speech, said the following: “But more importantly, yes, I’ve been awarded this award, and yes, I am now the rising star, but the true rising stars are the young soldiers in Israel… So I’d like to dedicate this award to the South African family that married off one son whilst the other is still missing. And I’d like to dedicate it to the state of Israel and to every single soldier fighting so that we can live and thrive in the diaspora.”

Teeger’s comments were reported in the South African Jewish Report on October 26 and have since been widely published across South African media. In response, the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (PSA) lodged an official complaint with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. Subsequently, CSA, Lions (the domestic union where Teeger plays), four Johannesburg-based cricket clubs, one concerned cricket supporter, the Abu Asvat Institute of National Building (a civil society group), and a director of a company that sponsors Lions all issued statements of grievance. CSA referred the complaints to advocate Wim Trengrove, who conducted an independent adjudication. Trengrove found that Teeger had acted in accordance with his constitutional right to freedom of expression and did not engage in any unbecoming or detrimental conduct. CSA has accepted the report.

However, the PSA said Teeger’s comments caused a “significant rift within the cricket community,” and they continue to question whether he is “fit to represent a diverse South African team and more so, whether he has the necessary capacity to lead any such team.” The PSA called for Teeger’s suspension from the U-19 World Cup squad and vowed to protest during the tournament. Pro-Palestinian sentiment is surging through South Africa after the country took Israel to the International Court of Justice this week.

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