BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Cricket's governing body has a sky-high headache: How can it stop planes flying over World Cup games carrying political messages?

A small plane circled the semifinal between Australia and England five times on Thursday leading a protest banner in the skies of Birmingham. The banner read, "World must speak up for Balochistan," a province in Pakistan. Play continued as normal.

Later, a small plane again appeared over the Edgbaston ground after the end of Australia's innings, this time towing a banner reading, "Help end disappearances in Pakistan."

Aware of potential security risks, and keen to try and reduce politics in cricket, the ICC is not amused.

"We do not condone any sort of political messages at the Cricket World Cup," the ICC said in a statement. "We have worked with local police forces around the country throughout the tournament to prevent the World Cup being used as a platform for political protests, so we are incredibly disappointed these flights continue to take place."

The ICC said it was determined to avoid a repeat at the World Cup final in London on Sunday.

"We are working very closely with the relevant agencies to make sure there is an air exclusion zone in place for manned and unmanned flights during the final at Lord's," the statement said.

Earlier in the tournament, a plane flew political banners over two group matches in Leeds.

During the India-Sri Lanka match, a plane towed banners reading, "Justice for Kashmir," and "India stop genocide & free Kashmir." Before that, during the Pakistan-Afghanistan match, a banner was towed also about Balochistan.

———

More AP cricket: www.apnews.com/Cricket and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More from this section

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.