New Delhi: The World Cup contracts row between India and the International Cricket Council (ICC) may go to the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne, Switzerland, reports said on Tuesday. India has refused to sign the contracts which prohibit cricketers from endorsing non- official sponsors for a month before and five days after the World Cup, and demanded a legal settlement to the dispute.
The ICC, already burdened by growing fears of playing in Zimbabwe, which co-hosts the World Cup with South Africa and Kenya from February 8 to March 23, wants the Swiss court to arbitrate. With only a week left before the deadline to sign contracts ends on January 14, the warring parties are running out of time to resolve the dispute. By setting a January 14 deadline, the ICC has negated its own ruling that non-official endorsements have to cease 30 days before the tournament starts on February 8.
But any further concessions by the ICC or the official tournament sponsors, as demanded by India, are unlikely. The Kolkata-based 'Telegraph' newspaper reported on Tuesday that the Global Cricket Corporation, which holds marketing rights for all events till the 2007 World Cup, had "categorically informed" the ICC that the sponsors will offer more concessions only if they are "compensated."
"In effect, that means they will themselves fork out less than what has been contracted. And, so, instead of $ 550 million (through till 2007), the ICC could get around $ 480 million," the newspaper said. None of the other 13 participating nations are agreeable to a deduction in the sponsorship money, leaving India out in the cold. The ICC insists India meet its contractual obligations after signing the Participating Nations Agreement (PNA) last year.
India argues its players cannot be expected to breach sponsorship deals which pre- date the PNA contract. Most Indian stars, including Sachin Tendulkar and captain Saurav Ganguly, enjoy lucrative personal sponsorships which they may have to forego if the current World Cup contracts are adhered to. Adding to the ICC's headache is pressure by the Australian, British and New Zealand governments to boycott the six World Cup matches scheduled in Zimbabwe in protest against President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms.