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Minister to review Zimbabwe tour

Andy Burnham
Burnham is planning a meeting with Foreign Secretary David Miliband

New Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has revealed he will review whether England should welcome Zimbabwe for two Tests and three one-day matches in 2009.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been widely criticised for his running of the African country and the treatment of its citizens.

And Burnham told BBC 5 Live: "It is impossible to separate what has been happening in that country from sport.

"I want to talk to foreign secretary David Miliband about Zimbabwe."

Burnham said he also plans to consult the International Cricket Council and England cricket chiefs and will then "take a government view".


England are also set to host the 2009 World Twenty20 competition which will include the Zimbabwe team in its line-up.

Earlier this month, ICC chief Malcolm Speed said it would be unusual not to include a member of the Council in one of their competitions.

"It's a condition of hosting an ICC event that all member teams can play," Speed told BBC Sport.

"We (the ICC) haven't yet had to deal with a situation whereby a country isn't allowed by the host nation's government to take part in an ICC event.

"If that happens, the board would have to meet and take whatever action it deems necessary."

Under previous Prime Minister Tony Blair, the government stopped short of banning the England team from touring Zimbabwe or vice versa.

But current leader Gordon Brown signalled his intent to take a tougher line when he stayed away from the European Union-Africa summit last December in Portugal because Mugabe was attending.

Unlike England, authorities in Australia and New Zealand took a stronger stance on Zimbabwe.

The New Zealand government denied Zimbabwe players and officials entry visas in 2005 while Australia refused to tour last year following a ruling from former prime minister John Howard who called Mugabe a "grubby dictator".

see also
England want Zimbabwe series off
13 Dec 07 |  England
England cancel Tests in Zimbabwe
24 Mar 05 |  England

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