As cricket goes deeper into commercialism, there are factors that have made cricketers sit up and think. Promotion of alcoholic beverages is one point that has evoked opposition.
Royal Challengers Bangalore spinner Iqbal Abdullah is the only member of the squad to not sport the branding of Kingfisher, a company that produces and sells beer. Incidentally, the company is owned by Vijay Mallya, who also owns the franchise.
According to RCB team manager Avinaash Vaidhya, Abdullah had approached the management with the request at the beginning of the season.
“He cited that the product clashed with his religious beliefs. All members were receptive to Abdullah’s request and we gave him the go ahead,” said Vaidhya.
“He stated that it was important for him to not sport the product and we did not want to step on anyone’s beliefs,” Vaidhya added.
“Our team consists of players from different religious backgrounds and we wanted to respect their choice.”
Kingfisher technically is a sponsor for all teams in the IPL, however, their branding is only printed on RCB shirts where they are also jersey sponsors.
Earlier, South Africa batsman Hashim Amla refused to wear the logo of Castle beer, the official sponsors of the South Africa team, on his jersey.
His teammate, Imran Tahir followed suit, citing religious sentiment as the reason. In Australia, leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed had also refused to sport the Australia shirt bearing their beer company sponsors.
IPL teams depend largely on sponsors for revenue, but players are slowly waking up to the fact that their name is getting associated with these brands.
Earlier in the season, HT had reported how a few members of the Kings XI Punjab were left red-faced after the team brought on a condom company as the jersey sponsor.