Cricket-South Africa stand down U19 captain for World Cup over protest fears

(Reuters) – Hosts South Africa have stripped skipper David Teeger of the captaincy for the Under-19 Cricket World Cup amid fears he could be a target for anti-war protesters, but he will remain part of the squad, officials confirmed on Friday.

Teeger was cleared of wrong-doing by an independent inquiry established by Cricket South Africa (CSA) last month following comments he made in support of Israeli soldiers at an awards ceremony in October.

The teenager was recognised at the Jewish Achiever Awards and said: “I’m now the rising star, but the true rising stars are the young soldiers in Israel. And I’d like to dedicate it to the state of Israel and every single soldier fighting so that we can live and thrive in the diaspora.”

The comments drew the ire of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA), who lodged a complaint with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).

Teeger was cleared by the inquiry, but his demotion comes as the South African government has levelled an accusation of genocide against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and CSA say they fear keeping the 19-year-old as captain could inflame tensions during the tournament.

“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 on Friday.

“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.

“In 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.”

CSA confirmed that Teeger remains a part of the squad for the Jan. 19-Feb. 11 event.

“David will remain an important and active member of the squad and we wish him and the team every success in the tournament.

“The newly appointed captain will be announced in due course,” the statement concluded.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)