Amid a raging controversy over MS Dhoni's business interests in player management firm, Rhiti Sports Management Private Ltd (RSMPL), it has now emerged that the India cricket captain's involvement could be much more than of just a former one-time shareholder of the company.
RSMPL, which manages Dhoni and is owned by close friend Arun Pandey, also runs MS Dhoni Charitable Foundation which, in the company's own words, is “the concrete form of Dhoni's vision to bring resources at the threshold of thousands of young players all over the country”.
Some of the brands that Dhoni endorses are also involved in the activities of the foundation, which conducts local city-based cricket tournaments and awards scholarships to young talented cricketers.
“Proper facilities, equipment are a must for any potential talent to nurture and we provide the same with an aim to develop cricketing structure across all sections of the society. For any young upcoming talent, it is very important that he/she remains motivated to continue to deliver and build on the raw talent. We thereby believe in constantly rewarding the talent and help them realise their potential,” the company website says about the foundation’s activities.
As India and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain, Dhoni does have some say in team selections and with the foundation “promoting young talent”, it does make for a conflict of interest scenario.
Pandey did not respond to phone calls or text messages sent from HT seeking details about the cricketers the foundation has sponsored and how it helps talented cricketers “realise their potential”.
“The aim of MS Dhoni Charitable foundation, to bestow an opportunity for the local youthful cricketers to stage their talent and earn appreciation for the same, but simply appreciating talent was not what Dhoni had in mind.
He planned to nurture this talent by providing bountiful resources. And being one of the most recognised faces of cricket, he is able to draw those resources with no trouble,” the website says.
Questions have been raised about Dhoni's ties with RSMPL, in which the skipper owned 15% stake. RSMPL manages Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, who play for Dhoni-led CSK, as also left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha. All the three have played for Team India as well. Rhiti also has the marketing rights for CSK.
Besides, questions have also been raised over business interests of Rhiti MSD Alamode Private Limited in which Dhoni and his wife Sakshi hold 65% shares, while Pandey owns 30% and Rhiti Sports the remaining 5%.
In another firm, Sportsfit World Overseas, Rhiti MSD Alamode owns 73%, with 26% believed to be owned by a former marketing head of a leading brand that Dhoni endorses.