Is there more room for politics in sports? SC

Published: Thursday, September 30, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:"Is there more room for politics in sports," asked the Supreme Court today when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) argued that Government control over sports would make politics enter the sporting arena.

The question by Justice N Santosh Hegde, heading a five-judge Bench hearing a petition filed by Zee TV on cricket telecast row, had everyone present in the court room breaking into a laughter amidst serious arguments advanced by the parties.

And the question appeared most timely after the nation witnessed the election drama for the post of president of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at Kolkata yesterday.

Venugopal, in the course of his arguments on behalf of the Board, said sports was not part of the Governmental functions and it would be a very sad day for the country when the Government takes over sports.

"This will result in politics entering the sporting arena," he said and added "if Government takes over BCCI, selection of players, umpires and venues of matches, it will be a very bad day for cricket in the country."

"Is the field of sports not already politicised," the Bench asked and said, "More appropriately the question should be - is there more room for politics in sports?"

Parasharan said the Government exercised various controls over sports bodies including BCCI which from time to time had been complying with its directions including non-participation of the Indian Cricket team in tournaments held at non-regular venues like Sharjah, Toronto and Singapore.

The court said at no point of time BCCI had either sought or given recognition by the Government and wanted to know how it could be classified as a 'state' without the Government exercising any control over its finances and administration and also the selection of the Indian team.

When Government said it held the key for participation of Indian cricket team in international events, the court said, "You have the power not to give the permission for travelling abroad and not to give them foreign exchange. Apart from these what else do you do to exercise control over BCCI?"

The Government also said it had the power to select the Indian cricket team for participating and sending it abroad.

"We are not doing it as we have entrusted the job to BCCI," Parasharan said.

The Bench asked in the event the Government selected the team, would ICC recognise it?

"Then we can cancel BCCI's recognition and thereafter ICC may accept the team selected by the Indian Government," the Centre said.

Countering this, BCCI said Government exercised no control over administrative and financial activities of the cricket body and that it had never submitted its accounts to either the Government or any Governmental authority other than the registrar of the cooperative societies.

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