Spot-fixing controversy: Time for sponsors to pull out of IPL?

Front pages of Indian newspaper with the news on the arrest of the tainted cricketers. Photo courtesy: MXM India

Oh Yes Abhi! The only way in which administrators and sportsmen will learn is by hurting them where it hurts most. Turn the tap off the monies, writes  Pradyuman Maheshwari.

 I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t get myself to watch last evening’s Kings XI Punjab-Delhi Daredevils encounter. No, not because I thought it was fixed, but purely out of a loss of faith in the way the sport is played.
 
The crisis of confidence is so much that one is now questioning all the bizarre-yet-not-impossible things that we’ve seen thus far in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). An ace fielder’s consecutive dropped catches, bad performances by various stars and of course the many batting collapses.
 
We’ve just heard of spot-fixing with one team’s players, but one wouldn’t be surprised if there’s news of more cricketers and even entire teams dirtying their hands.
 
Good money has raised the profile of the game (and hence the stakes) so much that it also brought in the bad money (fixing). Loads of it.
 
I’ve read the reactions of some advertisers, including a few of the sponsors. They’ve given a mature response, as one would possibly expect of them.
 
But what they haven’t fathomed is the anger of the average Indian.
 
What they haven’t factored in is that the resentment against the sport (and sportsmen) could also turn against them.
 
If Pepsi, Yes Bank, Star Plus et al indeed care for the sport, they must give it back to the sports organisers and sportsmen. Hurt them where it hurts the most. Withdraw the sponsorship! One is sure that there is a fine print in the sponsorship terms and conditions which can allow for this to happen.
 
If Sahara really believes in national pride, they too must put the Indian team and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on notice.
 
I don’t know what the headquarters of organisations like Pepsi, Newscorp, Vodafone, Coca-Cola, Voltas etc which otherwise value integrity and the ‘spirit of the game’ think about this. I wonder whether their shareholders and Boards will be fine with their brands be associated with a tainted sport.
 
While there’s nothing wrong in making money, it appears that a section of the administrators and players wouldn’t mind compromising on the sport for their gains.
 
My suggestion is hence harsh and extreme, but that’s the only way in which cricket will be played like a sport: withdraw the sponsorship and the ads. Let IPL 6 continue without the money. If the TV channels want to continue to show it on telly, let them do it, but without the ads, one isn’t sure if they will spend the money on the coverage.
 
Once we are sure that the clean-up has happened, the sponsors can come back.
 
For me, Star Plus will show a ‘Nayi Soch’ if it does this. Ditto with Pepsi. Oh Yes, Abhi!

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(Pradyuman Maheshwari is a senior journalist and editor. He is currently Editor-in-Chief and CEO, mxmindia.com. He can reached via Twitter at @pmahesh)