It’s a sad day for millions of Indian Premier League fans across the globe as Justice Mukul Mudgal and his colleagues have thrown light on the murkier side of an event that has become part of our lives. Behind the glitz, the glamour, the razzmatazz and the fours and sixes, there are influential people who have cheated viewers of cricket by betting and passing on information about the hottest IPL team — Chennai Super Kings. There is also talk of the involvement of the underworld as well.
Leafing through the report presented by Justice Mudgal to the Supreme Court, what hits you straightaway is how one man who is going to run global cricket — Mr N. Srinivasan — and his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan have shamed the nation.
At a time when Srinivasan should be celebrating his rise to the top as chairman of the International Cricket Council, he needs to answer many questions at home. Justice Mudgal mentions how as a property, the IPL is a fantastic model. Sadly, it has been disgraced by people who you would think are the guardians of the sport.
Surely, the findings in the report confirm the worst fears — that this is not a gentleman’s sport.
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Srinivasan kept insisting at a press conference on May 25 last year that Meiyappan was merely a cricket enthusiast and carried the same charade before the probe panel. But the report clearly identifies what all the smart son-in-law was up to.
In one day, everything has changed.
Srinivasan is not a man who can be trusted. The BCCI chief kept saying things about Meiyappan and how he had nothing to do with him. The report proves Meiyappan not only bet and passed on information, but the very mention of links with the underworld is scary.
I am sure that as a god-fearing man, Mr Srinivasan does have a conscience. I looked at him in awe last week when he took the world of cricket by storm by getting the ICC to approve radical reforms.
Way back in 2000, when cricket was shamed by the match fixing scandal and the CBI submitted its interim report and BCCI’s investigating officer K. Madhavan followed it up, one thought the BCCI would take serious note of it. But thanks to the absence of comprehensive laws in India to deal with cheats involved in betting and fixing, those reports became history.
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Today, when one reads the Mudgal commission report, it is clear it has taken a lot of pain to do a sincere job and expose the dark side of the game.
Fans enjoy the IPL for its sheer thrill and its instant entertainment value, but if there is so much dirt in it, will they remain loyal if it isn’t cleansed? A word of praise is also a must for Nilay Dutta, a member of the commission, as he has not let his being in the BCCI as a member of the Assam Cricket Association come in his way. Dutta is also a lawyer of repute.
Dutta mentions how names of six prominent Indian players came up in the taped conversation with bookies. These players need to be confronted and here is a wonderful chance for the BCCI and the IPL to clean up the game once and for all.
Perhaps, the IPL governing council should include some owners, too.
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The submission of this report comes two days ahead of the IPL auction and is bound to send shock waves down the spines of people involved with the sport. One hopes the Supreme Court accepts the report in toto, which means Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals could be thrown out of the competition as per the IPL rules. The Supreme Court has done well not to stall the auction, but if CSK and RR are disbanded, two new teams should be allowed to come in.
Justice Mudgal has recommended that betting be made legal in India. If you legalise it, surely revenue can be generated for the betterment of other sports.
How can that work? The Delhi Police has mentioned in the report how Rs 150 crore are bet on each IPL match. Just imagine, if bets are placed on even 10 IPL matches bets, it runs to Rs 1500 crore. And even if a 10 per cent tax is levied on it, that’s a lot of money which can be used for the promotion of Olympic sport in the country.
Should betting get legalized at home one day, taxes on 60-odd IPL matches would work out to a whopping sum which can be used so well.