REUTERS: Ten members of Papua New Guinea's under 19 team have been suspended from international cricket for 12 months following a spate of shoplifting at the U19 Cricket World Cup East Asia Pacific Qualifiers in Japan.
A statement from the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Thursday said the players would also be banned from domestic cricket until the end of the year.
Papua New Guinea had been favourites to qualify but because of the suspensions were unable to field a team against Japan, meaning the hosts went through to next year's ICC Under-19 World Cup in South Africa by default.
"On behalf of Cricket PNG I would like to offer our full and sincere apologies to the ICC, Japan Cricket Association and all of the other teams playing in the event," Cricket PNG Chief Executive Greg Campbell said.
"The behaviour of our players is not what we would expect from international cricketers of any age.
"The players have expressed sincere regret at their actions and in addition to their suspension from cricket, they will undertake a comprehensive rehabilitation programme over the next 12 months, supported by Cricket PNG."
As well as the suspensions, the players have been ordered to undertake 60 hours of community service, the statement said.
Campbell was quoted by local media as saying the players had been caught "doing some stealing".
"It's not as bad as people said but our point of view, my point of view and the board's point of view is it doesn't matter whether it's one item or 10 items - it's the same crime," Campbell was quoted on Radio New Zealand's website as saying.
"They've got no charges laid against them - everything has been cleared. We got all the items back, we paid for them at the shops they were taken (from) and donated that to charity, is what I can gather from our team manager. The shopkeeper didn't press any further and they left the country so they have no charges against them whatsoever."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Mark Heinrich)