The Games They Played

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), January 10, 2016 | Go to article overview

The Games They Played


New Delhi, Jan. 10 -- It's deja vu for Indian cricket officials. As they pore over every word and phrase of the Justice RM Lodha committee's elaborate report that aims to overhaul the cricket Board's administration and bring in transparency, at least some of them could feel a tinge of regret.

While the recommendations of the Supreme Court-appointed panel seem to have finally persuaded the BCCI to acknowledge that with big power comes big responsibility, the influential cricket body could so easily have escaped this plight by adhering to the CBI report in 2000.

The report said: "BCCI is in control of huge amounts of public funds without any concomitant rules, regulations/laws that govern the manner in which public funds are to be utilised. There is no accountability of any office-bearer of the BCCI similar to the one imposed on public servants when dealing with public funds... It would be the elementary duty of anybody purporting to be the apex regulatory body of a sport, to keep a close watch on the performance of the team, and to thoroughly investigate into the slightest gossip, leave alone suspicion, of any malpractice... The BCCI, however, did not care to even investigate allegations which were bound to have been within their knowledge..."

These words have been taken from the concluding portion of the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) probe report on cricket match-fixing in 2000.

The Lodha panel's opening remarks suggest just how much the richest cricket body in the world has resisted change, and how easily it could have put in place mechanisms that would have prevented the 2013 Indian Premier League spot-fixing scandal and the conflict of interest situations that preceded and followed it.

The Lodha committee report, released on Monday, starts thus: "Cricket is a national sport that connects the people of India in a unique way. The BCCI which administers the game in the nation, however, continues to be mired in one controversy after another. These include serious inaction regarding betting and match-fixing, frequent amendments to the rules to enable persons in power to perpetuate their control and promote their financial interests, permitting or enabling its office-bearers, employees and players to do acts which clearly give rise to conflicts of interest which have no resolution mechanism, lack of transparency and accountability, failure to provide effective grievance redressal mechanisms and a general apathy towards wrongdoing. In addition, although the BCCI discharges public functions, its working is perceived as a closed door and back-room affair, not accountable to those who are affected by its decisions nor to those who matter most - the cricket fans. At stake therefore are the faith, love and passion for the game of hundreds of millions of people. …

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