The American dollar was trading at 49.60 on Tuesday. But as far as prize money for tennis tournaments in India is concerned, it is still fixed at 41.91. Players participating in the $15,000 ITF Futures in Mumbai are complaining at the manner in which the global financial crisis has come to envelop their meager earnings. Organising body Maharastra State Lawn Tennis Association insists at paying them their winnings at the rate of Rs 41.91 per dollar.
“The International Tennis Federation (ITF) decides on the exchange rate. This is an average of the dollar rates over six months. They gave us a rate of 39.91, we have added a bit to that,” says ITF supervisor Nitin Kannamwar.
“This is unfair. We are spending in dollars when we travel abroad. Everywhere else we get dollars straight up but in India they pay us in rupees,” says Purav Raja who has made it to as high as 220 in world doubles. However, Bharat Oza, president of MSLTA clarifies that government rules dictate the mode of payment: “We pay foreigners in dollars but RBI guidelines say that our players be paid in rupees. The exchange rate is fixed by ITF and there is nothing we can do about it.”
“Anyway, the BCCI seems to care more about Indian tennis that the AITA,” says Raja alluding to the Rs 40 lakh grant that came the way of former Davis Cup player Karan Rastogi. In fact, a horde of tennis players has applied to the BCCI for a grant hoping to get as lucky as Rastogi.
“I don't understand why the federation cannot absorb the loss and give us the same as what foreigners get,” adds Raja. Other players contacted by HT also voiced the same concern but were cagey about going on record given the federation's track record of crushing dissent. “We follow the rules. We don't want to tinker with what the ITF dictates,” is the final say of AITA secretary Anil Khanna.
India has emerged as one of the top nations as far as number of men's Futures events are concerned. While Indian players benefit immensely by gaining international ranking points by exploiting home conditions, it is apparent that they are not getting their fair share of prize money this time around. In the process, the tournament will save in the vicinity of a lakh. The precise figure can, of course, be arrived at only once the earnings of the foreigners are clear by the end of the week.