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South Africa Change U19 Captain Amid Threat of Gaza-Related Protests at U19 WC

#U19WorldCup | South Africa U19 skipper #DavidTeeger has been under scrutiny for his pro-Israel comments.

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Cricket
3 min read
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Only a week before the 2024 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup, South Africa have removed David Teeger from captaincy, amid threats of Gaza-related protests at the tournament. Teeger, who has been under scrutiny for being vocal in support of Israel, is feared to be the ‘focus’ of pro-Palestine protests, leading to his removal from captaincy.

What Is the Incident?

Hosts of the upcoming edition of the U19 Cricket World Cup, South Africa have decided to change their captain – not for cricketing reasons, but for safety concerns.

David Teeger, the 19-year-old batter from Johannesburg, was initially named as the captain, but he has been criticised by Palestine supporters for being vocal in support of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Anticipating the pro-Palestine supporters disrupting the tournament, with Teeger being a possible ‘target’ for his comments, Cricket South Africa (CSA) has opted for a change in captaincy.
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What Was David Teeger’s Pro-Isreal Statement?

The issue started in November, when Teeger was given the ‘rising star’ award at the ABSA Jewish Achiever Awards. During his acceptance speech, Teeger dedicated his award to the Israeli soldiers.

Yes, I’ve been given this award, and yes, I’m now the rising star, but the true rising stars are the young soldiers in Israel. I’d like to dedicate this award to the State of Israel and every single soldier fighting so that we can live and thrive in the diaspora.
David Teeger

How Did the Pro-Palestine Groups React to Teeger’s Statement?

South Africa’s Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (PSA) criticised Teeger’s statement, whilst a complaint was also lodged with the South African Sports Confederation, demanding the suspension of the U19 captain.

The PSA stated Teeger’s comments had “created a significant rift within the cricket community”, questioning “whether David Teeger remains fit to represent a diverse South African team and more so, whether he has the necessary capacity to lead any such team.”

Further, the PSA stated that Teeger’s comments represented “narrow and racist values.”

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What Happened After the Complaint Was Lodged?

CSA appointed an independent inquiry committee, chaired by advocate Wim Trengove, to find out whether Teeger’s comments had breached any code of conduct.

However, the finding was in favour of the cricketer, with the inquiry committee concluding that Teeger exercised his constitutional freedom of expression during the award ceremony.

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So, Why Has He Been Removed From Captaincy Now?

Despite the independent inquiry committee giving Teeger a clean chit, the pro-Palestine groups did not change their stance. Reacting to the judgment, the PSA stated the committee “failed to deal with the moral and ethical nature and impact of David Teeger’s comments.”

Recently in a Test match between India and South Africa, a section of fans were seen waving the Palestine flag in Cape Town’s Newlands Cricket Stadium. CSA, in their statement, mentioned safety concerns as the reason for removing Teeger from captaincy.

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We have been advised that protests related to the war in Gaza can be anticipated at the venues for the tournament. We have also been advised that they are likely to focus on the position of the SA Under-19 (SA U19) 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 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.
Cricket South Africa

Albeit, it was also confirmed that Teeger has only been removed as the captain, and from the squad entirely. “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,” CSA said.

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