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Friday, June 4, 2010

Edition 20: Sports

Indian Scandal League

City Blog Desk
What started as a marriage of sports and entertainment has turned into the biggest scandal in the Indian sports. Each day, there is some revelation taking another politician, more Bollywood actors into the orbit of the doubts. What union sports Minister M. S. Gill said was true that the Indian Premier League (IPL) is the creation of Indian cricket board and it is answerable to the nation.

Income-tax and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials are spending their days in and night out searching and seizing the documents from IPL franchisee offices across the country. Which, alas, included Pune also. Searches were conducted in Kolkata, Delhi (in the offices of GMR group that owns Delhi Daredevils) and Pune - in the office of the Sahara group that won the Pune bid for the new IPL team that will play from next year, the other franchisee being Kochi over which Shashi Tharoor resigned as central minister last week.

Charges and counter-charges between the cricket board president Shashank Manohar and Modi has vitiated the atmosphere to the core. Manohar has accused Modi, the IPL chief of selectively leaking private e-mails and breaching the confidentiality clause in the franchise contract through social networking site Twitter. Modi, meanwhile, was grilled by the ED mainly on the process of awarding the television broadcasting rights and the media contracts to Multi Screen Media (MSM) and World Sports Group (WSG). The investigation zeroed in on the $80 million facilitation money paid by MSM to WSG.
Board president Shashank Manohar said he had advised Modi not to go public on the holdings of all the franchisees as the IPL Kochi threatened legal action against the board after he had tweeted the ownership details.
'After the names were leaked, I get a communication from (Vivek) Venugopal (partner in Rendezvous) around midnight saying that there is a Confidentiality Clause in the agreement, which had been signed between the board and them and there is a serious breach of obligation on part of the board,' Manohar said.
'I said the issue is complicated and needs detailed deliberations and has legal implications and hence it should be discussed and considered by the Governing Council meeting in Mumbai. The other members of the governing council also agreed with me and so did Modi.'

Considering the big names involved in the Indian Cricket, like union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and BJP leader Arun Jaitely, the IPL imbroglio figured in the Rajya Sabha, too. Replying to the debate over his ministry's working, Gill said the IPL is a creation of the cricket board and it should answer questions posed to it. At the same time, he said, 'the ministry has to lose its passivity vis-a-vis cricket.'

Modi, however, is equally vehement in saying that he would either resign or attend the meeting and challenged the validity of board secretary N. Srinivasan calling the meeting, saying he was an interested party as the owner of a franchise.

Incriminating Evidence
As the officials dig more and more documents, they find evidence in equally large proportions. The income-tax officials in Kolkata are stated to have found incriminating evidence from the offices of Kolkata Knight Riders, whose primary owner is Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, and the Cricket Association of Bengal.

The probe by the Directorate of I-T Investigation was on the legality of money transfers from tax havens like Mauritius and Cayman Islands to buy the franchise and the players through auctions that went into making IPL one of the world's richest sporting events and a magnet for international cricketers.
'We've found incriminating evidence,' Indian Revenue Service Deputy Director Akhilendu Jadhav told mediamen. 'We needed to have a look at certain transactions and we have found whatever we were looking for.'
Warriors For Pune IPL
The Sahara India group launched the Pune team of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the S.P. College ground here on Saturday. The team was named Sahara Pune Warriors.
Against a white background, the emblem shows the silhouette of a warrior astride a horse, brandishing a spear in his hand. The Sahara India group chief Subroto Roy said, “Pune is the land of Maratha warriors. So the name of the team is as much Sahara Maratha Warriors as Sahara Pune Warriors.”
Speaking of his association with the city, Mr. Roy said, “I have received so much love and affection from the people of this city that I earnestly feel I lived here in my previous life. In this life, too, I have now become associated with Pune till the end of my life.”
Carrying forward its commitment to cricket, Mr. Roy announced that players from Pune who play at the State-level would be given a monthly allowance of Rs. 5,000. The amount would be Rs. 10,000 for National players and Rs. 20,000 for International players. He added that there were plans to set up an international sports academy in the district to train sportsmen from the grassroots level.
Asked what kind of glamour quotient the Pune IPL team would have in the tournament, when considered against other teams that were supported by Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty, Mr. Roy said, “Pune is a magnificent and glamorous city.

Sachin & Ojha Bag Honour
Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar was Friday named best batsman while Deccan Chargers' Pragyan Ojha bagged the best bowler honour at a glitzy IPL Awards Night in Mumbai. Tournament's most prolific batsman, Tendulkar, has 618 runs in his kitty from 14 matches with five fifties.

He beat competitions from Royal Challengers' batsmen Jacques Kallis (553 runs from 15) and Robin Uthappa (374 from 15) and Chennai Super King's Suresh Raina (463 from 15) and Murali Vijay (432 from 14) for the Jury Award for best batsman.

Tendulkar, who is uncertain to lead Mumbai Indians in Sunday's IPL final against Chennai Super Kings after splitting his right hand webbing during the first semifinal on 21st April, was also named best batsman and best captain in the Viewers' Choice category.

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