It just not cricket
MILLIONS of Sri Lankans are glued to their television sets these
days, as the pictures from the sunny islands of the Caribbean show every
minute detail of Lankan cricketers’ exploits.
Yesterday’s Sri Lanka-India match was a do or die battle between both
countries where cricket is followed almost with a religious fervour.
It is no secret that cricket is the biggest game in the
sub-continent. It is a huge money spinner for the respective boards,
particularly from the sale of television rights, sponsorships, gate
collections and merchandise endorsements. The cricket boards are thus
cash-rich than some of the smaller commercial banks.
But that does not give them a carte blanche right to spend as they
please. Like every other organisation, sports control bodies are
accountable to the public and they must maintain transparency.
The funds they have accumulated over the years must be used for the
betterment of the game and to develop future talent. They must not be
used for personal luxuries of officials and joy rides.
Details of just such a joy ride have now emerged. As the Daily News
disclosed yesterday, nearly 20 so-called ‘officials’ will be having the
time of their lives half a world away in the picturesque Caribbean
islands thanks to a Rs.23 million splurge by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).
This, of course, means there are more officials than players in the
Sri Lankan side. The ‘team’ of officials includes even family members of
It is indeed a pity that SLC, which struggled to pay salaries of
nearly 100 employees recently, has been called upon to foot their huge
bill in the West Indies, one of the most expensive destinations in the
This is not the first time this malady has afflicted our sports
bodies. Officials regularly outnumber athletes at foreign meets. Lavish
parties are thrown at the drop of a hat in the name of promoting sport.
In the end, they end up wasting public funds.
In the case of SLC, it has been pointed that the Interim Committee is
not answerable to the member clubs and associations - the general
membership of the SLC. This lack of accountability is shocking to say
It has often been said that politics and sports do not mix. The
events at SLC confirm that this is indeed the case.
Politically influential persons have apparently compelled the SLC to
include their spouses and family members in the official delegation,
with the entire cost borne by the SLC. Such political interference in
the governance of sport must end.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his Mahinda Chinthana, has
articulated a series of measures to develop sport in Sri Lanka.
This type of joy ride, which can be described as an euphuism for
waste and corruption, go against the very essence of such plans and can
only serve to tarnish the reputation of SLC and sport in general.
The Government must order an impartial investigation into this fiasco
and take action against those responsible, regardless of their social
and political status.
It would also be prudent to evolve a mechanism to set a limit on the
number of officials who could go on tours with sports teams, depending
on the number of sportsmen and women and on the magnitude of the event.
There should be strictly no room for taking family members on such
trips, unless they pay their own way.
There can be no sport without players and the sports bodies must
ensure their welfare and take steps to develop their respective games.
Nurturing officials - and officialdom - will impede the progress of
sport. Now is the time to act to stem the rot.