The ICC and BCCI need to reevaluate their stance – or watch cricket go the FIFA way. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been in a position akin to Srinivasan, being accused of heading a corrupt FIFA. The 2018 and 2022 bid process is increasingly looking less than kosher, leading to a situation where Blatter is avoiding travel to the USA fearing interrogation by the FBI. Like Srinivasan, Blatter has rejected all calls to clean up the game and all calls for his stepping down…
No amount of criticism from any quarter seems to rattle the ICC and the BCCI, both steadfastly supporting beleaguered BCCI president N Srinivasan even as the Supreme Court continues to question the way BCCI, cricket in general and the IPL is being run. Speaking on the Mudgal committee report, the Court said, “If you allow these things to happen, then you are killing the game of cricket.” Going by their reactions in the past to comments as scathing as this, it will be no surprise if both the ICC and the BCCI issue a statement in support of Srinivasan – and Srinivasan will carry on regardless. Will brands like Pepsi object to the way the BCCI, and the IPL, is run?
The ICC and BCCI need to reevaluate their stance – or watch cricket go the FIFA way.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been in a position akin to Srinivasan, being accused of heading a corrupt FIFA. The 2018 and 2022 bid process is increasingly looking less than kosher, leading to a situation where Blatter is avoiding travel to the USA fearing interrogation by the FBI. Like Srinivasan, Blatter has rejected all calls to clean up the game and all calls for his stepping down.
Things have changed – not because of the lack of support from FIFA members, but because one sponsor – Coca Cola – has announced unhappiness with the murky goings on. According to a report in ‘Business Insider’, a Coca-Cola spokesman told ‘The Sunday Times’: “Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup is a concern to us. The current conflicting perspectives regarding the investigation are disappointing. Our expectation is that this will be resolved quickly in a transparent and efficient manner.”
Sponsors in general allow a long rope when faced by misgovernance in popular, high-audience sports, unwilling to take the risk of a competitor stepping in, resulting in FIFA, Formula 1 and the ICC being allowed to get away with overt highhandedness and regular accusations of corruption. Senior management in all three bodies have, from time to time, been accused of conflict of interest. It is apparent that the politics of management if these bodies is such that Srinivasan might still receive the support of ICC members as Blatter has, up to now, from FIFA members.
Coca Cola’s statement does more to shake Blatter’s control than any opposition from FIFA members – because sponsorship and ad sales form a significant percentage of FIFA’s overall revenue. If Coca Cola is the first big sponsor to express concern, it will in large part be due to the unhappiness that football fans are expressing on the issue of corruption – and football fans are Coca Cola’s target audience. Other FIFA sponsors such as Adidas and McDonald’s have made less aggressive statements, but the Coca Cola stance might open the floodgates.
Sponsors of BCCI and ICC tournaments, including sponsors of the IPL, could learn from the FIFA developments. The reputation of cricket in general and the BCCI and the IPL in particular, is taking a pummelling. The BCCI and the ICC continue to protect Srinivasan – which continues to endanger the investments that brands have made in cricket. Pepsi, with their Rs. 400 crore commitment to the IPL should lead from the front. Pepsi, learn from Coca-Cola. This time, it makes business sense to learn from your competitor. Pepsi and Coke have seen numerous eyeball to eyeball confrontations. This time, Pepsi needs to stare at BCCI – and BCCI will have to blink.