New Delhi: Former South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis has said he is "embarrassed" to be a South African after the government banned four sports federations from bidding for international tournaments after they failed to pick enough black players.
South Africa's sports minister had announced on Monday that he would veto any bid by the cricket, rugby, netball and athletics bodies to host multinational events, as they had missed racial "transformation targets" designed to redress apartheid-era inequalities.
While more than 90 per cent of South Africans are black, they remain a minority in the starting line-up for many national teams — most notably rugby and cricket — more than two decades after the end of whites-only rule.
But Kallis criticised the government for what he regarded as meddling in sport, through a Tweet posted while he was coaching in India. "So sad that i find myself embarrassed to call myself a South African so often these days #no place for politics in sport," he wrote. Kallis is currently coaching the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
— Jacques Kallis (@jacqueskallis75) April 25, 2016
The government's veto, which will be reviewed in a year's time, should not immediately affect South African cricket as the right to host a major tournament is not currently up for grabs. However, it could sink the rugby federation's hopes of hosting the 2023 World Cup, with the process due to begin in a matter of months.
Although the national rugby body and the government have agreed that the Springbok team for the 2019 World Cup should be at least 50 per cent black, only three black players regularly started in the last tournament in 2015. Cricket South Africa is aiming to field at least seven players of colour in its starting elevens, which would include black Africans, mixed-race and players of Indian descent such as the leading batsman Hashim Amla.
While it has met that target in several one-day matches, it has never had more than five non-white players in a Test team.