Can board afford to see cricket lose its credibility, asks SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the sanctity of the IPL format but rejected a contention by N Srinivasan that there was no possibility of any conflict of interest between an administrator’s duty and, if any, his commercial interest.

The court said whatever might be its commercial angles, the game must be played in its pristine form free from any sporting fraud. 

A bench of Justices T S Thakur and F M I Kalifullah said the contention that the IPL being a commercial venture of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and a platform for Indian and international cricketers to make a living from the sport was neither here nor there. 

No one had found fault with  the IPL as a format, and there was no challenge to the wisdom of the BCCI.

“The question is whether the BCCI can afford to see the game lose its credibility in the eyes of those who watch it, by allowing an impression to gather ground that what goes on in the name of the game is no more than a farce because of sporting frauds like betting, match fixing and the like,” the bench said. 

“Can the BCCI live with the idea of the game being seen only as a means to cheat the unsuspecting and gullible spectators watching the proceedings whether in the stadium or on the television with the passion one rarely sees in any other sporting enterprise,” the bench said. The BCCI’s commercial plans for its own benefit and the benefit of the players would blow up in smoke if the people who watched and supported the game were to lose interest or be indifferent because they got to know that some business interests had hijacked the game for their own ends.

“There is no manner of doubt whatsoever that the game enjoys its popularity and raises passions only because of what it stands for and because the people who watch the sport believe that it is being played in the true spirit of the game without letting any corrupting influence come anywhere near the principles and fundamental imperatives considered sacrosanct and inviolable,” the bench said. 

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