Should the Supreme Court ratify the Lodha Committee’s proposals to the BCCI and should they be accepted in its entirety, then the panel would have achieved what the proposed National Sports Federation bill could not. The BCCI honchos may crib and cry as much as they want but they have only themselves to blame at being forced to turn over a new leaf given their lackadaisical responses to the scandals that plagued the IPL.
Shashank Manohar may have tried to clean up the Augean stables with his conflict of interest proposals but the Lodha commission have handed him an unambiguous mandate of dragging the national cricketing body into the 21st century with its dynamic suggestions.
The first reaction within the BCCI was to oppose all recommendations except the one of legalizing betting.
Surprisingly or perhaps not, betting is a state matter and thus does not actually come under the ambit of the BCCI.
In 2006, the BCCI had suggested to the central government to make sports betting legal in the country.
A former BCCI secretary said:
“The taboo that is attached to the whole thing prevents the government to nod in the affirmative. You can’t compare India with Europe or the US. The socio-economic structures are different. Interpretations of moral values are different. So it’s very difficult to convince the government that such a measure is absolutely necessary. And even if people are convinced, who will bell the cat?”
The Lodha report itself is divided into ten chapters each addressing different aspects on the running of the BCCI.
While the recommendations may seem harsh and shed light on the limitations of the BCCI in its current avatar, the commission had this to add:
“We hasten to add a word of caution lest there be a negative impression created about the BCCI. During our interactions, one fact that emerged uniformly concerned the way the manpower of the BCCI organizes the actual game and its competitions across the country. The organisation has still managed to harvest talent and ensure that the national teams perform remarkably on the world stage. Talented players from virtually any corner of this vast nation are in a position to compete and reach the highest levels, even if they come from relatively modest backgrounds. Recent years have borne evidence with India winning the World Cup in T-20 and One Day Internationals, while also reaching the top of the Test rankings.
The BCCI staff members have ensured that hundreds of matches along with match officials are organized annually at all levels, and that updates are provided so that the BCCI remains fully informed. The management of the game is also self-sufficient without any governmental grants. We notice the BCCI also conducts charity matches for national causes and humanitarian assistance is also given to the former cricketers and their families.
The Committee has therefore consciously ensured that no measures are recommended that would interfere or limit the good work being done on behalf of the BCCI. “
The Commission also said that they applied two tests to every issue:
“Whether this will benefit the game of cricket?”
“What does the Indian cricket fan want?”
This pertains to the structure and constitution of the BCCI.
The problems listed were:
- Not all States are represented on the BCCI
- Some States are over-represented
- Some members do not represent territories
- Some members neither play matches nor represent territories
- Union Territories are unrepresented on the Board
- Ad-hoc creation of Membership categories
- Arbitrary addition and removal of associations
There was a concern earlier that the state associations of Gujarat and Maharashtra would suffer should the one-state, one-member rule come into effect. That is not the case.
There will be one state association and thus one full member and the other state associations would continue as associate members without voting rights but would continue to field separate teams in the national competition.
There will also be no further affiliate or future members.
Union territories, too, are to be made full members as per the discretion of the BCCI.
The Services, Railways and Universities will no longer be full members but associates.
Clubs such as the Cricket Club of India (CCI) and National Cricket Club (NCC) too are to be declassified and made associate members since they do field cricket teams.
While at first appearances, this appears to be a clear and fair readjustment of the structure and constitution of the BCCI, this also allows the smaller states of the North-East and Union territories considerable leverage within the BCCI when it comes to electing officials to the Board. FIFA too operates under similar rules and the likes of Joao Havelange and Sepp Blatter used this to their advantage by promising and delivering benefits to members from Asia and Africa that helped promote the game, yes, but also assured their uninterrupted reign in FIFA’s corridors of power. Isn’t it possible that a similar scenario may play out within the BCCI with the smaller states using their voting power to secure their share of the spoils in exchange for their votes?
To be continued…