South Africa strips U19 cricket skipper David Teeger of captaincy over Gaza protest fears

Under-19 Cricket World Cup host South Africa has stripped its skipper of the captaincy over fears he could be targeted by protesters over his pro-Israeli views.

David Teeger was cleared of wrongdoing last month after he praised Israeli soldiers fighting in Gaza at an award ceremony for Jewish achievers.

However Cricket South Africa (CSA) said on Friday it had been advised that protests over the conflict are likely to target the tournament’s venues and focus on the teenager, with a risk of “conflict or even violence”.

“We have been advised that protests related to the war in Gaza can be anticipated at the venues for the tournament,” a CSA statement read.

“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 protesters.

“CSA has a primary duty to safeguard the interests and safety of all those involved in the World Cup and must accordingly respect the expert advice of those responsible for the safety of participants and spectators.

“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.”

Teeger will remain a member of the squad and a new captain will be announced in due course, it added.

In October, Teeger dedicated an award to Israeli soldiers fighting in Gaza, leading to a complaint from a pro-Palestinian group.

The decision to strip him of the captaincy comes as South Africa and Israel are fighting a legal battle before the UN’s top court in The Hague.

Pretoria, which has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, is accusing Israel of “genocide” over its military campaign in Gaza, a charge Israel has angrily dismissed.

South Africa’s leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, decried Teeger’s standing down as “galling”, accusing the CSA of “kowtowing to bullies” and failing to protect players’ rights to free expression and belief.

Meanwhile the national chair of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, Karen Milner, accused the sporting body of discrimination.

“The decision by Cricket South Africa to relieve David Teeger of his Under-19 captaincy of the World Cup team starting next week in South Africa is an outrageous act of antisemitism,” Milner said.

“There is no basis for this decision, other than the fact that Teeger is Jewish.

“This is not the first time that Jews have been excluded from sporting bodies in our history. The SAJBD will do everything in its power to fight against this vicious prejudice.”

Outspoken British media identity Piers Morgan was also fuming at the move in a fiery post on X, formerly Twitter.

“WTF!? Have they sacked him because he’s Jewish? This is shameful moral cowardice by Cricket South Africa,” Morgan wrote.

The Under-19 World Cup gets underway on January 19.

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