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Tread carefully or risk a rip-off

india Updated: Jan 26, 2009 01:08 IST
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Stories of corporate fraud are not unusual. Only a naive person will be surprised at the unravelling of the Satyam scam. Greed and human existence have a symbiotic relationship. The more “civilized” we get, the more avenues we find for creating wealth at the expense of others.

To cut short this somewhat longish preamble, let me go straight to the business of corruption in the sports world. I am reminded of what Rahul Dravid said at the HT Leadership Summit last year. He talked about how the young and the uninitiated should not be exposed to agents, who for their greed, lure teens into signing deals which may not be good for an aspiring player. He felt there is a need for the establishment to step in and act as a responsible regulator.

Now, who will have a problem with this wise and sane suggestion? In fact, we all would like to widen the theme and scope of this suggestion and want agents of even international players to be registered with the board and a code introduced which keeps them away from those who wield power.

There have been allegations in the past where an “unhealthy” link has been traced between agents, selectors and board officials. There may or may not be truth in these accusations but when you find agents doing business with the board as well, suspicion is bound to grow.

Last year, the chairman of the selection committee, Dilip Vengsarkar, was told not to write columns in newspapers for an agent who was also managing top Indian players. To be fair to Vengsarkar, he was merely doing what many in the past have done. The more serious problem here is that who will regulate whom? It is said that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others. And this adage applies to the board.

Consider this fact. We have players in the IPL governing council who are writing newspaper columns and are also doing television commentary. Isn’t there a clash of interest? If I am paid to look after the interests of someone, will I be able to give an objective view on his activities to the readers/viewers?

The malaise is deep rooted. In Chennai, former board president, AS Mutthiah, has accused the present secretary, N Srinivasan, of violating the board’s constitution by being the owner of an IPL team. The case is being fought in the court. There are allegations of even other board officials having monetary interest in IPL teams.

In these times of economic meltdown, money flowing into sports may get reduced to a trickle. The IPL franchises, grappling with loss of profits in their core businesses, are worried that they may have overestimated the power of T20 in generating profits for them.

These are not good times for sports and cricket governance in India needs a regulator, as it cannot afford to get mired in a major scam.