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  Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 14:59 GMT
India cricket chiefs face backlash
Mohammad Azharuddin (centre): Named in the report
By Sandeep Singh in India

Indian cricket's masters find themselves in a difficult situation following the publication of the Central Bureau of Investigation's report into corruption within the sport.

The Sports Ministry-nominated investigation extended beyond the match-fixing controversy to rap the Board of Control for Cricket in India for gross mismanagement and poor handling of public funds.

The direct impact of the CBI probe will be the end of the cricketing careers of those charged with being hand in glove with bookmakers, but the BCCI itself faces the prospect of losing its autonomous status.

The severe 'strictures' passed against the BCCI in the report have underlined the concern of the Sports Ministry that all is not well in the Board.

The Ministry flexed its muscle to ensure that the Board conceded its 'request' to leave out tainted players from the Indian squad for the start-of-season competitions in Nairobi and Sharjah.

Withold

It has no specific authority to tamper with autonomous sporting bodies which do not seek funds from it but, it can withhold permission for international engagements.

A discreet expression of its authority was enough to let the BCCI know who was the boss, and, unlike in the past, Board mandarins have refrained from criticising the Ministry's recent interference.

Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa
Powerful position: Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa
Sports Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, a former head of the Punjab Olympic Association, has made it clear that the government will exercise its power to ensure efficient management if the BCCI is found wanting.

The earlier 'Vision Statement', detailing the BCCI development plan, submitted to the government at the beginning of the match-fixing controversy, will no longer be enough to protect its autonomony.

The Board's indictment in terms of "lacking accountability in handling public funds" has left it vunerable to government interference.

The demand for a sports regulatory body will only become louder as the new Parliamentary session approaches.

The CBI report has raised hackles both within and outside the BCCI, some of whose dissatisfied officials even flayed the Board in their testimony to the investigators.

Arbitrary

The arbitrary functioning of the Board has been public knowledge for long.

But the existence of several 'dummy' associations, which have been the personal fiefdoms of selective BCCI satraps for decades, has now come into the limelight.

Cricket officials now fear that any changes forced in the structure of these units could alter the balance of power within the Board.

The players named for their nexus with 'bookies' in fixing matches have no future whatsoever.

It looks like curtains for their international careers, although some might manage a repreive for want of successful prosecution and try returning to domestic cricket.

But there won't be many takers for tainted players as public opinion has turned against them.

Cricket supporters have begun pressing the government to taken action against the players involved.

The BCCI could be forced to act, even in haste, against those charged for match-fixing and not wait for their 'legal indictment'.

In-depth section on corruption in cricket

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