Two years after the damning 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL) corruption scandal emerged, the fate of the tournament now hangs in the balance. After a lengthy legal process, the Indian Supreme Court suspended two former champion teams — Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals — for two years, and slapped their owners with lifelong bans preventing them from participating in any cricket-related activity. Since the advent of the IPL in 2008, allegations of corruption, spot- and match-fixing have marred the tournament. The glamour, the larger-than-life parties and night life have all been an integral feature of the league. While these elements supposedly help glamourise the event, they also provide an opportunity for the infamous Indian underworld to flex its muscles.
Doubts over the source of wealth of some of the owners of various franchises had emerged in the past, however, the BCCI turned a blind eye to this aspect. The IPL now faces a possible crippling blow both to its reputation and business. At the same time, the Indian court’s verdict provides an acid test for the ICC’s zero-tolerance policy towards corruption in the game. At the helm of the body sits N Srinivasan, the father-in-law of one of the banned owners, and a co-owner of CSK. Mr Srinivasan is the ICC chairman and is set to serve out at least one more year of his two-year tenure. He has often been perceived to be a major stumbling block in the attempts that have been made in the past to cleanse both the BCCI and the sport in general, of various wrongdoings. Furthermore, he was one of the driving forces behind the Big Three — India, England and Australia — virtually taking over the sport last year. The ICC needs to demonstrate that it takes corruption in the sport seriously and Mr Srinivasan needs to be asked about his role in the entire IPL saga, regardless of the position he currently enjoys at the ICC. Anything short of this will call into question the independence of the ICC, which has often been accused of operating under the shadow of the BCCI.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2015.
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