For the first time ever, India’s top 15 shooters will get cricket-style contracts, an annual, three-slab graded payment structure, from the sport’s governing body, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI).
But guess whose name doesn’t figure in that elite list of 15? Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, ostensibly because he already has several personal endorsements, some of which, potentially, could clash with the Sahara India Pariwar, NRAI’s sponsors.
“Abhinav already has a tie up with the Mittal Champions Trust, which is why the Sahara people were not too interested in including his name for graded contracts,” said Baljeet Singh Sethi, the NRAI secretary-general. But when it was pointed out that there are several other sportspersons who have tie-ups with Sahara and the Mittals, Sethi said he wasn’t aware of these tie-ups. “Actually, this kind of sponsorship deal is a first for shooting and we don’t want to create any conflict.”
Well, by that reasoning, no Indian cricketer would make the cut for any BCCI contract, given the number of personal endorsements each has, most, far in excess of Bindra.
While Bindra could not be reached for comment, sources close to him said he was never given any information about the contracts. There was also no discussion on whether a potential conflict of interest issue could be worked out, like in the case of Olympic bronze medal-winning boxer Vijender.
Sahara also sponsors Indian boxing and the Indian boxing federation arranged that he have a modified contract that allowed him to have personal endorsements, much like the cricketers.
It isn’t surprising though that the NRAI made no effort on Bindra’s behalf, after all, Bindra has periodically spoken out against the problems in the system. Over a year after his Beijing gold, they are yet to felicitate him, or even give him even a letter of appreciation. Why should this be any different?
Shooters too get Sahara
Olympic sport in India continues to find a strong supporter in the Sahara India Pariwar as the corporate is now looking to offer graded contracts to India’s top shooters. HT has learnt that the deal has been finalised and that the company intends to make it public in the near future.
Similar to the terms that have been offered by Sahara to boxers and wrestlers earlier, the shooters too will be placed in three different slabs. Those in the top category will gain 20 lakh per annum. Twelve and six lakh will accrue to the bank balance of those in the lower categories. A total of fifteen athletes will benefit with five figuring in each slab. The contracts are slated to be for a period of four years and performance will dictate renewal and movement up or down the grades.
The shooters will get 25 percent of the amount at the beginning, followed by 50 percent after six months and the remaining 25 percent at the end of the contractual year.The deal has been thrashed out between Leisure Sports Management Private Limited (LSM), the sports management group of Sahara, and the National Rifle Association of India. Understandably enough, all the shooters have given their consent.
The main clauses in the shooting deal are similar to the boxing and wrestling ones. Sahara can use shooters for promotional activities for a fixed number of days in a year. The athletes are also free to do other endorsements provided those are not in conflict with the principal sponsor. Sahara will also sponsor the NRAI’s national championships by paying twenty lakh a year.