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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Should England be hosting Zimbabwe?
Nasser Hussain's preparations are once again affected by politics

Zimbabwe's controversial tour of England will come back into the spotlight next week when the first Test begins at Lord's

Are England right to play host to the troubled African nation?

English cricket authorities are bracing themselves for protests at the home of cricket, against a tour which some claim affords legitimacy to Robert Mugabe's government of Zimbabwe.

Former Zimbabwe players Andy Flower and Alistair Campbell have aired their concerns about the tour, while the widow of a white farmer murdered by Mugabe's regime has branded it "totally disgusting".

England's notorious World Cup match in Harare was boycotted due to safety concerns, but there would appear to be no grounds for a repeat decision for a series on British soil.

Should Zimbabwe's tour of England be going ahead?

This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appear below.

Mugabe's actions are indefensible but no country is blameless. Zimbabwe could boycott England for blowing up Iraqi civilians in the recent illegal war.
Rob I, London

The atrocities that have been committed in Zimbabwe are the sins of Mugabe and his followers, and not the Zimbabwe cricket team. The more channels of diplomacy we keep open the better chance we have of bringing an end to such barbarism.
Ken Cooper, Chandlers Ford, Hampshire.

Why not? 300 UK companies are still trading with Zimbabwe and still probably making a profit or trading in the hope that the situation would probably improve so to justify their decision. There are currently no international sanctions against Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe team are here to play cricket not get involved in politics
Chris, Chester
Firstly, cricket and politics should be kept separate although the Zimbabwe cricketing authorities, who are, unfortunately, the cronies of the President, are doing the opposite. Secondly, if we don't host them, cricket would probably disappear and we would be blamed for not supporting the dying breed. We need Zimbabwe in the top league and to keep them in there we need to play them. Support Zim Cricket.
Kumar, UK

I believe that the ECB are right to host Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe team are here to play cricket not get involved in politics. They are in no way endorsing the regime under which they live and should be left to concentrate on their cricket.
Chris, Chester

Let them tour - it keeps the subject in the limelight.

Don't let them tour - it's condoning Mugabe who is after all the President of the ZCB.

Let them tour - These guys have to make a living!

Don't let them tour - It's blood money they're earning!

The above are all noble arguments, but I have only one thing to say. When Britain refuses to trade with Mugabe and his cronies, THEN people can clamour for our cricketers not to play against Zimbabwe's.
Will, UK

Do you think by hosting a game you are hosting Mugabe? The problem with the English is that they mix sport with politics.
Ridhard D Munsaka, Hwange, Zimbabwe

Cricket builds bridges. It should do its utmost to rise above politics. Stopping the Zimbabwe tour would have no benefit politically, whereas allowing it to proceed will offer the chance for us to express our personal disgust at Mugabe by wearing black armbands, as I shall at the Lord's Test.
Nigel, England

In a perfect world the tour wouldn't go ahead
Steve, London
It's all about the money unfortunately. There is no way the tour should go ahead, the team may not agree with Mugabe but they are effectively his ambassadors.

If they had any spine they would refuse to play but of course financial concerns take precedence. Alistair Campbell was absolutely right in his assessment last week, they're just yes men. I hope Heath Streak can sleep at night, for a big man he shows little heart.
Ahmad, London

I think we should host Zimbabwe. If we banned them it would do nothing to help their people only to isolate them further. Mugabe wouldn't care if the team were banned. The only way to help their people is through the Commonwealth, UN and EU and not through sport.
Chris, London

In a perfect world the tour wouldn't go ahead, but it keeps the topic in the public eye. We should all wear black armbands.
Steve, London

The decision not to play in the World Cup match has to be supported by a further boycott
Mark, Dubai, UAE

The tour should go ahead. I wore a black armband at the World Cup matches, but I was there! Cricket is going to outlast Mugabe and be a major uniting force in Zimbabwe.

But for it to do that, this team needs to keep competing on the big stage. You have no idea how many children from disadvantaged background are now getting interested in cricket.
Andrew Hartnack, Harare

The die has already been cast. The decision not to play in the World Cup match has to be supported by a further boycott against playing Zimbabwe anywhere.
Mark, Dubai, UAE

England is playing against a Zimbabwean team that is politically picked. Does England thing it is right to not only ban good players like Henry Olonga but force them to flee their homeland. Imagine if some of our English players were sent into exile and were not allowed to return to the UK, It's a disgrace.
Peter Ross, London

Of course this decision to play Zimbabwe is financial. These bare faced executors of the game need this revenue to allow them the cosy lifestyle they get from cricket. To suggest the money goes to grass roots sources insults our intelligence.
Rex George, Lincoln

Of course the tour should go ahead
Claire Mitchell, London
I'm going to the Lords Test match, does that make me a supporter of Robert Mugabe, does that make me condone what he is doing to his people and country?

Sport and politics don't mix, simple as that. In all of this I think the cases of Andy Flower and Henry Olonga seems to have been forgotten. If everyone who attends the games Zimbabwe play in wore a black arm band as I intend to do whilst watching play, then I think the message might get across.
Chris Cassley, United Kingdom

Yes! The matches keep Zimbabwe in the public eye. Cricket in Zimbabwe should be encouraged - it is unifying, a good thing. And I know whose opinion I'd go with out of Peter Tatchell and Andy Flower. Incidentally, do you think Tony Blair ever phoned Nasser to thank him for his World Cup stand?
Claire Mitchell, London

Of course the tour should go ahead. We owe our support to the personally courageous stance taken by Andy Flower and Henry Olonga. If protesters feel they've more to add to what those two have said already, and can exert more influence than them, then do it. If not, don't protest. Give them your support in England instead. They are proud cricketers, proud of the potential of their own country. Don't deny them their livelihoods.
Andy, UK

No as it's the only sport in Zimbabwe which brings the country together. It's the only shining light in the troubled country. Let sport talk not politics
Philip w, Australia

Hosting the Zimbabwe tour will be interpreted by Mugabe as support for his policies. There should be no contact at all with murderous and barbaric regimes.
Robert Jones, Melbourne, Australia

Mr Rundle (below), the difference is that the South Africa boycott started because their politicians tried to decide who could or couldn't play against them (by banning d'Oliveira). So far the Zimbabweans haven't attempted any political interference in other teams' business.
Charles Courtney, UK

Can anyone remember a sporting boycott that was ever successful?
Graeme, UK
Boycott Zimbabwe now! England needs to take a firm stand against Mugabe's regime for the sake of those being tortured in Zimbabwe.
Michell Jones, Devon

The cricket tour should go ahead because it gives the protestors a chance to have their say. Perhaps sometime, someone will listen! Mr Chingoka talks about his country facing economic hardship - WHY should the bread basket of Africa be facing economic hardship?

God bless people like Andy Flower and Henry Olonga who have the courage to stand up for what they believe in.
Jill Wilson, Reading, Berkshire

Dear England, We so admired your sacrifice in the World Cup (by not going to Zimbabwe). It all seems such a waste if the games go ahead now.
Val James, Auckland, NZ

Can anyone remember a sporting boycott that was ever successful? (And don't say South Africa - it was economic and social pressure, totally unconnected with sport that brought that system down).

This tour will have no effect on Mugabe either way - none of these boycotts ever do.
Graeme, UK

I am rather surprised that nobody has spotted the similarities between the current Zimbabwe situation and the former Apartheid South African regime. As a white South African, I DEMAND that the world now boycotts all sporting ties with yet another barbaric tyrant as it rightly did in the past. What was good for one, must surely now be good for the other?
Anthony Rundle, Alton, UK

Why should cricket be singled out when hundreds if not thousands of businesses in the UK & Zimbabwe continue to trade on a daily basis?
Rik Hawke, England

Because Mugabe is the President of Zimbabwe Cricket HE has politicised this tour by definition. We should not play against them, sad though that is for the sport. Once again Lamb has ducked his moral responsibilities.
Paul Freeman, England

I don't see what all the fuss is about. Much as some people would like to see everything in the world as being tightly linked to politics, that's nonsense.

I'm no supporter of Mugabe, but despite that I think it's well out of order to take it out on sportsmen by putting them in the difficult situation of having political pressure brought to bear on them.

I'm sure that no more Zimbabwean cricketers that support Mugabe than there are English cricketers that support Mugabe. Get real, people, give the sportsmen a break!!
Curtis Burisch, London (ex Zimbabwe)

Let's face it, sport is big business now. Why should cricket be singled out when hundreds if not thousands of businesses in the UK & Zimbabwe continue to trade on a daily basis? Leave cricket alone.
Rik Hawke, England

Our politicians share the blame in this situation
Gerald Smith, London

If it wasn't right to play in Zimbabwe, then it's not right for them to play here. It smacks of double standards.
Rob Morris, UK

During the World Cup England refused to tour Zimbabwe due to safety concerns. But in reality it was more of a political boycott. So why should England host Zimbabwe now?
Rajeev, UK

The decision is both political and moral. It is up to the board to decide how it chooses to be viewed in these circumstances.

No doubt they were all nodding sagely when the Moscow Olympics were boycotted. They and English cricketers and fans have a rare opportunity here to add their voices to the global condemnation of Mugabe's suppression of the people of that blighted nation.

Moreover, our politicians share the blame in this situation. They, no doubt, cower behind their desks because of the Commonwealth links with that disgusting regime.

If the tables were turned would we be desperate to have a powerful nation stand-up and support us? You bet we would.

Meanwhile we as fans can help far better than anything imaginable - simply do NOT attend the matches.
Gerald Smith, London

I could not believe it when I heard John Humphries on Today this morning pontificating to Tim Lamb about the "Human" viewpoint on this issue. Why are cricketers singled out from all other walks of life when trying to ply their trade?

s John Humphries said this morning, the BBC is not allowed to report in Zimbabwe. Was he inferring that if the BBC were allowed in it would refuse to go because of the moral dilemma of being accepted by the "monstrous regime"? Would any British reporter sent there work for nothing? I don't think so.
Alasdair, Windsor

Let there be plenty of protests against the Zimbabwe regime outside & inside the grounds
Peter Wells, Margate

It seems ironic to me that we go to war with one fascist dictator we don't much care for and play cricket with the other.

It is clearly all about money - as is most of sport these days. Tim Lamb virtually admitted as much this morning by pointing out that the income from international cricket is needed to fund the game from the grass roots.

The government should have offered to make good the shortfall - a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of "liberating" Iraq.
Bill Snelgrove, London

All the protest about the matches in the World Cup meant that the team became demoralised and suffered. Give them a chance to play and prove what a side they can be.
Louise Ross-Kellaway, Dorset

The tour should go ahead. There is no reason why the cricket players and fans should be penalised for this government's inadequate political response to the situation in Zimbabwe.
Don Middlemost, Exeter

The tour should go ahead, let there be plenty of protests against the Zimbabwe regime outside & inside the grounds so their government knows we support their cricket & not their regime.

I like the idea of a fundraiser match ... the tour should go ahead but under terms to make the Zimbabwe Government uncomfortable.
Peter Wells, Margate

Cricket will soon fade away and disappear altogether if politics keep poking its nose into the game
Jaya, Canada

The Tests should go ahead. The main reason England did not play in Zimbabwe was because of safety worries. Now they are on home soil safety is not an issue.

Sport and politics don't mix. Let the politicians worry about the situation in Zimbabwe and let the cricketers play cricket!
Gordon Howes, Cambridge, England

Cricket should not suffer another India-Pakistan type dead-lock! Forget the past and get on with the game please!
Dushy, Canada

Cricket will soon fade away and disappear altogether if politics keep poking its nose into the game. Please, please play the series at least for a cricket loving person like me!
Jaya, Canada

The Test matches will probably be rained off anyway!
David, Manchester UK

If English cricket fans are so concerned about Zimbabwe arrange a Zimbabwe Food Fundraiser match
Eddie Mukahanana, Zimbabwean in Canada

Tim Lamb has yet again demonstrated cowardice on the part of himself and the ECB. He continues to complain about cricket being unfairly expected to make political decisions. It is not a political issue it is a MORAL one.

If they are going to invite Zimbabwe to tour here then Lamb and his cronies should be prepared to defend that decision rather than try to abdicate responsibility with disingenuous talk about politics.
Dave, London

England should not be hosting Zimbabwe at all as they demonstrated that they were not prepared to play in Zimbabwe in the World Cup. The suffering masses in Zimbabwe will not gain anything.

I would probably have respected the idea if the authorities indicated that the proceeds of the game would go towards the masses who are already starving via a UK Charity (not a political party).
Priscilla Lambert, UK/Zim

Who will it benefit if the tour is cancelled? Zimbabweans who are faced with hunger? I don't think so.

If English cricket fans are so concerned about Zimbabwe arrange a Zimbabwe Food Fundraiser match with Australia and buy food for Zimbabweans instead of running your mouths.
Eddie Mukahanana, Zimbabwean in Canada

At least this tour will keep the issue of Zimbabwe in the news and in the public mind at a time when news coverage has dropped off dramatically thanks to the war with Iraq and the pending elections.
Aaron, England

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