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Volume 10 No. 25
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Former Cricketer Calls For Indian Government Intervention Amid Spot-Fixing Scandal

Former cricketer and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirti Azad "has urged the Union Government to take over the affairs" of the Board of Control for Cricket in India through an ordinance, according to THE HINDU. Azad "issued a hard-hitting statement that did not spare his party colleagues Arun Jaitley and Anurag Thakur." Describing the BCCI as the "Brotherhood and Cooperation in Cricket in India," Azad said, "The Union and state governments should display their strength against the united force of politicians of rival political parties who are shamelessly dominating Indian cricket, by taking immediate control of BCCI and respective state cricket-associations." He said the government takeover was necessary for "safeguarding the huge amount of BCCI money that is unsafe in the hands of some selfish individuals, who have come to seizing control of Indian cricket by employing dubious means" (THE HINDU, 6/4). The PTI reported the spot-fixing scandal in the Indian Premier League "turned murkier with the names of global terrorist and India's most wanted man Dawood Ibrahim and his close aide Chotta Shakeel surfacing in the case." Delhi Police on Tuesday "slapped stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against all the 26 accused," including three Rajasthan Royals cricket players, and claimed bookies like Ashiwani Aggarwal were working at the behest of the Dawood gang. The police claimed that they "were armed with enough evidence and telephone intercepts to prove in the court that the bookies had made use of the underworld network in fixing IPL matches" (PTI, 6/4).

IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM: In Chennai, Saad bin Jung opined the present scandal and intrigue within the BCCI "is mainly related to its prodigal child, the IPL." This tournament "was founded on more than just cricket." Conflicts of interest, multi-million dollar franchises, cheerleaders and the promise of freely available post-match "entertainment," Bollywood and cricket stars, raging TV ratings -- "the IPL fed on it all and became a raving success." Now match-fixing, betting, bookies "and the alleged involvement of players and a man related to the president himself have converted the tournament into sleaze." The "ravenous IPL continues to feed on this baseness, taking it all in, bursting at its seams." It is because IPL sleaze "has seeped so deeply into the very foundations of Indian cricket that it has become of paramount importance for the BCCI to cleanse the system from its very roots." It is time that the BCCI "severed itself from the IPL" (THE HINDU, 6/4). 

CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The AFP reported the agent of Indian cricket captain M.S. Dhoni admitted Monday "that the World Cup winner had briefly held a stake in a management company that represents several other players in the national side." Rhiti Sports says on its website that "it manages Dhoni as well as all-rounders Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja," whose int'l careers depend in part on the captain who has a large influence on team selection. Rhiti said it was "greatly aggrieved at the widespread media reports regarding an alleged conflict of interest" (AFP, 6/3). The PTI reported former Indian cricketers and sports management execs feel that Dhoni "should not put himself in such a position where questions could be raised about a possible conflict of interest." Azad: "Obviously, the documents that have come out indicates that it has been a conflict of interest as far as Dhoni's involvement with Rhiti Sports is concerned." Former cricketer Chetan Chauhan said that "ethically it was not correct for Dhoni to have stakes in the company, which manages him." Chaulan: "Ethically this is not correct. It seems to be trickling down from the president. The Board officials need to take some harsh decisions and make it clear what business the players and officials can float of their own" (PTI, 6/4).

BLACK MARKET TICKETS: In Chennai, G. Viswanath wrote the Mumbai Cricket Association "has debarred senior official Ratnakar Shetty from taking part in the association's activities." Shetty "is alleged to have charged the association's office bearers of indulging in black-marketeering of tickets" for the Twenty20 int'l  between India and Pakistan (THE HINDU, 6/4). The FINANCIAL TIMES' James Crabtree wrote the scandal engulfing the IPL "took a further turn this week." N. Srinivasan "left his post grudgingly and temporarily." The decision "was an unsatisfactory fudge, however, and one typical of a cricketing establishment that shows few signs of cleaning up its sport, or the sizeable commercial operations behind it." True, Srinivasan stepped aside pending an inquiry, "but that is to be dominated by BCCI loyalists, while his interim replacement is another stalwart of the system that oversaw the current farrago." None of this "suggests a shake-up is likely." The episode also shines a light on the IPL’s management, "and one that is dispiritingly indicative of problems that plague India’s business scene more generally -- the most obvious being feeble governance." Conflicts of interest "are rife too." These two issues add up to a third: "over-centralisation of power." Just as too many Indian businesses are dominated by one powerful owner, so Srinivasan "came to hold sway at the opaque juncture of cricket's political and commercial interests" (FT, 6/4).