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Report exposes plunder of BCCI money, CoA silent since more than two years

Jasvinder Sidhu

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CoA chief Vinod Rai is yet to take action upon the findings of the Deloitte report. Photo: IANS

Vinod Rai-led Committee of Administrators (CoA) has sat on a report on financial discrepancies by BCCI’s state units for over two years

New Delhi: The Committee of Administrators (CoA) has kept a damning report, which exposes financial irregularities of Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) money by its state associations, under wraps since more than two years now as most of these units are being run by political heavyweights and influential people.

Sports Lounge has learnt that the Vinod Rai-chaired committee had received the confidential report titled “The Board of Control for Cricket in India: Brief on Statutory Report”, compiled by international audit firm Deloitte on state associations in February 2017 but is yet to act upon it.

The BCCI hired Deloitte in 2015 to undertake a “project transformation for greater transparency” within its ranks.

The report elaborates several financial discrepancies for the FY 2015-16, including tampering with account books and officials forging signatures for withdrawing money. It also raises questions on the conduct of BCCI’s state member associations in terms of utilisation of money.

Records available on BCCI’s website indicate that this report has not been discussed or mentioned in its statutes reports furnished to the Supreme Court by the committee so far.

Sports Lounge exclusively possesses a copy of the brief report that puts the role of Rai, who has been appointed by the honourable Supreme Court to head CoA, under the scanner. Former India women’s cricketer Diana Edulji and the newly-appointed Lt General Ravi Thodge are the other two members on the CoA panel.

The report exposes that the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), then headed by BJP MP Anurag Thakur, Jharkhand State Cricket Association(JSCA) led by Amitabh Chaudhry (currently acting BCCI secretary) and Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) used BCCI’s money to carry out “various related activities through other legal entities”. These “legal entities” also exploited certain rights while using BCCI’s money.

The report exposes financial mismanagement by several of BCCI’s member associations.

It adds that these three member associations used “Donations in cash and in the form of fixed assets given by the State Association to Association involved in other sports. Further, rental income from facilities created by the State Association, was collected by third parties. ”

The investigation also highlights that Gujarat Cricket Association (GJCA), under BJP president Amit Shah, Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) partly under former India skipper Sourav Ganguly, Gautom Roy-led Assam Cricket Association (ACA), Bihar Cricket Association (BCA), HPCA, Punjab Cricket Association (PCA), Sikkim CA and Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), led by former BCCI president N. Srinivasan, failed to maintain “control over fixed assets” and did not maintain a “fixed assets register”.

Shah has been GJCA’s president since 2014, succeeding Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who vacated the post after becoming the PM. Ganguly became CAB president in September 2015 after serving as its joint secretary from July 2014.

The investigation also highlights that GJCA, CAB, Assam Cricket Association, BCA, HPCA, PCA, Sikkim CA and TNCA failed to maintain “control over fixed assets” and did not maintain a “fixed assets register”.

“Absence of formal tendering process for awarding various contracts (including stadium construction contracts),” the report observed about GJCA, ACA, OCA, JSCA, Assam CA, Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) and Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) led by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar.

Most of these state associations draw revenue from the BCCI even after these findings and the “misuse” of funds.

However, this confidential brief doesn’t contain anything about the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) which has been facing a number of investigations by various agencies number of allegations of corruptions since 2014.

The brief of the main report further highlights an “alleged misappropriation of funds” by the Goa Cricket Association (GCA) under the presidentship of Chetan Dessai, forging signature to deposit a sum of Rs 2.87 crore “in a bank account opened in the name of the Association”.

Auditors were surprised by the way many associations maintained their accounts.

The GCA was also hauled up for “discrepancies noted in the details of payee (Club/Districts) as per books of account/ Cheque register as compared to bank statements.”

The BCCI hired Deloitte in 2015 to undertake a “project transformation for greater transparency” within its ranks. But its auditors were surprised by the way many associations maintained their accounts. Some of these cricket officials even provided handwritten account statements to the auditors, albeit in the age of digitisation.

Several state associations face corruption charges and law enforcement agencies currently investigate frauds worth of billions of rupees against them but not a single FIR has been registered against these alleged offenders by the BCCI.

However, the police has registered a complaint against JK Cricket Association (JKCA) and GCA officials under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 406 and 409 (criminal breach of trust).

A mail containing a series of questions was sent to Rai by Sports Lounge regarding findings of the report but he didn’t respond to either SMS or calls. His inaction and silence on the matter is baffling particularly when the honourable Supreme Court appointed the CoA to look after the administration of the BCCI, which is battling several corruption allegations, to implement Justice Lodha Committee’s reforms.

(The views, if any, are personal in nature and the portal can’t be held responsible for anything appearing in the writer’s name)

Sports Lounge Exclusive

Invest in grooming coaches to develop Indian football: Man City star Paul Dickov

Sayan Mukherjee

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Paul Dickov says India are on the right track as a footballing nation.

New Delhi: India should invest in grooming coaches who would impart modern day knowledge to budding footballers during their nascent stage, former Manchester City forward Paul Dickov said.

India’s growth trajectory in football is slow and for swifter results the country should improve its infrastructure and focus on developing age-based groups.

“Coaching has got to be right from a very young age, getting the facilities right is also very important. India’s vast population and passion for football should also, hopefully, help the national team do well,” Paul told Sports Lounge in an exclusive chat during the announcement of Man City’s global multi-year partnership with premier smartphone brand TECNO mobile here.

“Children should get the chance to train under capable coaches. India also needs to concentrate on picking the right talent for their age-group categories,” he added.

The 46-year-old noted that with limited facilities India have shown potential to grow and rather than immediate results the country should be patient, setting realistic goals.

“India needs to be patient. They should be prepared to take one step forward and expect to take two steps back. Not just in India, but many Asian countries, when it comes to progress in football, expect to achieve everything now without necessarily putting in the hard work to get there first,” he opined.

Dickov has travelled to India several times in the last two years for Man City’s promotional activities and has noticed an improvement in fan engagement and general enthusiasm regarding the sport in the country. He kicked off a new health and fitness challenge named TECNO Race to Manchester City, which will see 40,000 Indian fans race around the world to Manchester.

“It’s getting bigger and bigger. Everytime I come here I see improvement. The national team is getting better. We have all seen that recently. But you can’t expect the national team to do well unless proper care is taken at the grassroots,” the Scot said.

Dickov had a distinguished career in the English Premier League from 1990 to 2011 for clubs like Arsenal, Man City, Leicester City, and Leeds United. He believes that the EPL champions Man City, under chief coach Pep Guardiola, are poised for an even bigger trophy haul after winning four trophies last season.

City won their second straight EPL title (their fourth in seven years), FA Cup title, EFL cup and FA Community Shield last season but crashed out in the Champions League quarterfinals.

“I think they are going to get better and better all the time. The average age of the squad is around 25 years. You look at Ederson, (Aymeric) Laporte, (John) Stones, (Benjamin) Mendy, Bernardo Silva, (Leroy) Sane, Raheem (Sterling), Gabriel Jesus—they are winning things and creating records at such a young age. They can only move forward during the next four, five, six years.

“I can see them going on and creating more records from here on. When you look at what they have won already at that young age and what they could go on to do, they are only going to get better. Champions League will be in their sights this year, I guess because they want to win everything,” the former Arsenal striker said.

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Golf Lounge

SPORTS LOUNGE IMPACT: IOA forms committee to run affairs of ‘unruly’ Indian Golf Union

Shaghil Bilali

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The de-recognition of the IGU will also affect the staging of the European Tour tri-sanctioned Hero Indian Open next year.

New Delhi: After Sports Longue highlighted the Indian Golf Union’s failure to implement the National Sports Development Code 2011 (NSDC) and put its house in order, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) swung into action as it disaffiliated the golf body and formed a five-member governance committee to run the sports and oversee ‘aspects regarding golfers’ participation in the Olympic qualifiers’.

If this was not enough, the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MYAS) led by Kiren Rijiju on Thursday also sent a letter to the IGU, informing that it no more enjoyed the government’s recognition.

IOA’s letter, a copy of which is in possession of Sports Lounge, of forming a governance committee came after almost two years it had sent a letter to the IGU about its non-compliance with Sports Code 2011. The IOA had intimated the golf body that it’s recognition was not guaranteed beyond February 2018. However, the IGU managed to evade sanctions through various means but it ultimately faced the wrath of IOA.

The IOA president Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra on Tuesday shot a letter to IGU acting president Lt. Gen. Devraj Anbu and honorary secretary Lt. Gen. A.K.S. Chandele, informing him that the IOA is taking the matter of governance of golf in its hands.
“Given the lapses in procedures and timelines, there is void in the leadership and management of golf in India. IGU has failed to resolve the impasse on reform in the last six months. Under the current circumstances, a resolution is not feasible without external supervision on reform of governance,” the letter read.

Batra wrote that after the IGU failed to hold AGM and conduct election, he and Rajiv Mehta, general secretary, IOA, met Antony Scanlon, Executive Director of International Golf Federation (IGF), in May in Australia, where the decision to form a governance committee was taken.

“Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra, President and Mr. Rajeev Mehta, Secretary General of Indian Olympic Association met Mr. Antony Scanlon, Executive Director of International Golf Federation, on 6 May 2019, at GCCEC, Gold Coast, Australia, to discuss on working together to resolve the situation. It was then agreed that a Golf Governance Committee would be formed to reform governance, liaise with all stakeholders, ensure compliance of norms and helping IGU conduct election,” the letter said.

The IOA letter said the IGU held its last election on October 28, 2016. Term of whose top officials and the council members ended by the end of October 2018.

The letter also ensured that the Indian golfers’ preparations for the Olympics won’t be jeopardised.
“Considering the significance of participation in Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the Committee shall also oversee all aspects with regard to participation of athletes and officials in the Olympic Qualifier competitions/ events during the interim period.”

At present, professional golfers Gaganjeet Bhullar (Rank 48) and Shubhankar Sharma (49) are the highest-ranked Indians in the Olympic rankings, while on the women’s side it is the likes of Aditi Ashok (35) and Diksha Dagar (55). These four players would represent the country if they remain the highest-ranked golfers in the IGF standings before next year’s cut-off date for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The five-member governance committee has Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI) president Kavita Singh as chairperson, Mukesh

Kumar, Onkar Singh, Vir Srivastava and a nominee of IGF as its members.

The letter further said since the IGU’s AGM last year was challenged in the court and it failed to come up with a solution subsequently, the IOA lost hope on the golf body.

“The IGU had issued letter to conduct election on 15 December, 2018, which was legally challenged and the election was stayed by order of the Alipore District Court, dated 14 December, 2018, in case Misc-79/2018 (West Bengal Golf Society Vs The Indian Golf Union & Ors).

“Given the lapses in procedures and timelines, there is void in the leadership and management of golf in India. IGU has failed to resolve the impasse on reform in the last six months. Under the current circumstances, a resolution is not feasible without external supervision on reform of governance.”

Sports Longue in its reports had highlighted the IGU’s adamant behaviour towards its members and golf clubs, and failure to follow the Sports Code guidelines.
The federation got four unprecedented interim recognition extensions from Sports Ministry before it ultimately got de-recognised last month. Issues like pending court cases, army clubs having voting rights in the AGM and the active army personnel holding top posts in the state and the national federations went against the IGU. The current president of the IGU is also the Vice-Chief of Army staff.

Ministry too writes to IGU

The sports ministry’s derecognition of IGU came into effect from June 30, four days after the federation had requested it to continue recognition citing a Calcutta High Court observation. However, nowhere the Court had said that the ministry was bound by its decision, nor there was any instruction that the de-recognition must be annulled. But if IGU had any hope of a fifth extension, the ministry dashed it on Tuesday.

In his letter, A.K. Singh, under secretary in the Sports Ministry, wrote to IGU director general Maj. Gen. Bibhuti Bhushan (Retd.), “I am directed to refer to your letter dated 26.6.2019 requesting further extension of recognition to Indian Golf Union (IGU). In this regard, it may be recalled that IGU’s interim recognition was extended by the Ministry for the fourth time till 30.06.2019, subject to the conditions as detailed in letter dated 08.03.2019. IGU was also informed vide letter dated 27.06.2019 that the implementation of the court order dated 20th Feb 2019 is an internal matter of IGU and the Government does not interfere in such issues to maintain the autonomy of a National Sports Federation (NSF). It was also conveyed therein that there does not seem to be any hindrance in implementing the above mentioned court order.”

He further wrote, “It has, therefore, been decided that the request for extension of recognition of IGU can only be considered after it complies with the directions as laid down in this Ministry’s letter dated 08.03.2019.”

What golf fraternity can do now

The de-recognition by the ministry and disaffiliation by the IOA is a huge blow to the IGU, which for last two years failed to convince its members to come under the same page. Even though the IOA has formed a committee which will oversee the election process, it will be almost same members from the current IGU set-up, who are likely to be part of future federation. So, for now, the IGU officials should look back, acknowledge their faults, sort out pending court cases and resolve all the issues with its members. The flared egos in the federation have taken them to hit rock bottom. It’s time to keep the disagreements away, work for the unity and take golf to the grassroots.

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Golf Lounge

Gloomy future awaits Indian Golf Union after ‘derecognition’ and violation of Army guidelines

Shaghil Bilali

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Lt. Gen. Devraj Anbu, who is also the Vice-Chief of Army Staff since May 31, 2018, is under scrutiny for working as acting president of the Indian Golf Union.

New Delhi: The Indian Golf Union (IGU) stands derecognised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports headed by Kiren Rijiju. But the bigger question is will the IGU overcome the National Sports Development Code (NSDC) 2011 diktat in the current scenario it is in despite getting “preferential” treatment at the hands of the government to put its house in order.

Four extensions of interim recognition and almost a two-year time after it was suspended in 2017, the IGU let the momentum slip from its hands it should have seized seriously. Now, all it is doing to present before the Sports Ministry is a Calcutta High Court observation which suggests the ‘appropriate authorities’ not to de-recognise the IGU till an appeal is disposed by the court.

Maj. Gen. Bibhuti Bhushan (Retd.), IGU director general, confirmed Sports Lounge that it has requested the ministry to recognise the IGU again on the basis of the court observation. In our last story we had talked about the IGU’s request for a fifth extension of interim recognition and the several legal cases they are facing.

“The Calcutta High Court in its decision last month said that the pendency of the matter before us may be cited before the appropriate authority not to de-recognise the IGU till the appeal is disposed off by us. The next hearing is on July 30,” Bhushan told the online sports portal.

The problem with IGU’s argument is the court has made an observation. Nowhere it has said the ministry is bound by its decision, nor there is any direct instruction that the derecognition must be annulled with immediate effect.

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju (L) is determined to make all NSFs comply with the Sports Code 2011.

Rijiju, who took over from accomplished shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, as the Sports Minister recently made it clear in the Lok Sabha that all National Sports Federations (NSFs) need to comply with NSDC.

Responding to a question by Trinamool Congress MP Sunil Kumar Mondal, Rijiju said: “This ministry has notified the NSDC 2011 effective from 31/01/2011 to ensure transparency and accountability in the functioning of NSFs for the healthy development of sports. As per the NSDC, NSFs are required to follow democratic and healthy management practices which require them to ensure greater accountability and transparency at all levels; adopt impartial and transparent selection procedures; adhere to age and tenure restrictions of office bearers; adopt and follow the basic universal principles of good governance in sports; adopt proper accounting procedures at all levels and produce annual financial statements; prevent age fraud and sexual harassment of women; comply with the provisions of the Right to Information Act; and hold elections as per model election guidelines issued by the government.”

The matter is now in the hands of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) which may form an ad hoc committee with a ministry official as its member to run the sports in India.

However, the golf body needs to undertake a long winding route to sort out various issues it has only complicated over the years. The biggest point of contention has been the excessive intervention of the Armed Forces, especially the Indian Army, in the governance/administration of the national federation. The IGU’s previous governance structure had five zones—East, West, North, South and Army—with the presidential post presented annually on a rotational basis. This was questioned by the Sports Ministry, forcing them to draft a new governance code as per the NSDC.

The same was highlighted by the Justice Lodha Committee recommendations that all sports federations must be free from any ‘government interference’ also featured in the “Olympic Charter”, part of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), that gives recognition to various NSFs in India through the IOA.

The latest RTI reply, in possession of Sports Lounge, clearly mentions the conditions under which an army official can get involved in sports bodies or any institutions. Article 19/Chapter V of the Army Rules 1954 state that no officer/personnel can “assist or take any active part in, any society, institution or organisation, not recognised as part of the Armed Forces of the Union; unless it be of a recreational or religious nature in which case prior sanction of the superior officer shall be obtained”.

Please mark that the association must be of a “recreational” nature. Considering this, the appointment of Lt. Gen. Devraj Anbu, who is also the Vice-Chief of Army Staff,  as the acting president of IGU is in direct violation of the Indian Army guidelines.

It has also been alleged that the acting president used his influential position in the Army to persuade previous Sports Minister Rathore to extend the interim recognition to IGU thrice since his appointment last April. Rathore, being an ex-Armyman, had to pay heed to a senior defence officer, it’s further alleged.

To explain the Army guidelines, membership in a club (for playing golf and using club facilities) is certainly recreational but heading a NSF is certainly not recreational and goes against the spirit of NSDC, which is about bringing professionalism/accountability in sports.

As an acting president, Lt. Gen. Devraj Anbu not only convenes the Annual General Meeting (AGM), but he also approves the utilisation of Sports Ministry grants and various expenditures incurred by the IGU. He is also the final authority on the appointment of different IGU committees, selection of golfers for international competitions and appointment of team managers/coaches/training staff etc.

The defence forces are well-known for their discipline and understanding of rules. However, in this case someone enjoying the second most senior rank in the Indian Army chose to ignore its own rulebook.

Should army officers still be allowed to hold top positions is an issue the golf fraternity should seriously look into.

In another RTI reply, what has come to light is Army/defence state units or facilities thereof aren’t allowed to become members of any sports body without prior permission (or without a No Objection Certificate) of the Army Sports Control Board (ASCB) or the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB), the final authority affiliated to the IOA in this case.

In the same RTI, filed by Shyam Sunder, vice-president of the Ooty Gymkhana Club, army’s chief information officer, Rakesh Rawat, clarifies whether defence personnel can join sports federations and whether defence units are eligible to become part of sports bodies. In his reply dated June 26, Rawat said, “After obtaining NOC from SSCB.”

“The RTI is making the NOC condition a must, but none of the army units, associated with state golf associations, has taken a NOC from the SSCB. Now, how can they become part of sports bodies when they violating an important defence rule?,” Sunder asked.

In most Olympic sports, like boxing and athletics, defence teams participate under the banner of SSCB, but golf and equestrian are exceptions where SSCB is nowhere in picture. The issue of army officers’ interference doesn’t end here. The training areas where golf is played as a recreational activity are affiliated as clubs under by the IGU. They can attend the AGM and have the voting rights.

In a RTI reply on March 27, Amit Sharma, information officer of the Indian Army, categorically said army clubs are ‘common training areas used for weapon training and obstacle training’. An ex-IGU official said the presence of army personnel has long been an objectionable issue and it can be contested in a court.

“The IGU has to resolve the issue of army clubs if it wants to put its house in order. The army clubs are not for common use. They are for army officers where they also allow some junior officers to play. While the Sports Code 2011 says that the voting rights should be given to the bodies working at grassroot level,” an ex-IGU official said on the condition of anonymity.

He added, “Tomorrow, if someone goes in the court against the presence of army officers in associations or status of army training areas as clubs, IGU will again be caught on the wrong foot.”

Where does the IGU stand after derecognition?

As reported by Sports Longue last month, the ministry in its letter dated March 8 had extended the IGU’s interim recognition to June 30. The IGU failed to conduct elections and put the house in order within the deadline. The derecognition came into effect from July 1. The ministry and the IOA has removed the IGU’s name from its list of recognised sports federations. In Parliament last Thursday, Sports Ministry informed the lower house that a total 56 recognised NSFs are affiliated to it and IGU’s name was not mentioned in the list.

A Sports Ministry source said, “Since we had already informed them about derecognition in our March letter, we needed not to issue a fresh directive. They had been given enough time to hold the elections and implement the sports code. They failed to come up with a solution.”

The IOA may now form an ad hoc committee as it did when the boxing federation was derecognised by Sports Ministry. The ministry may also appoint a government observer to oversee the election process.

However, the silver lining among the dark clouds hovering over IGU is that the golfers won’t get affected by derecognition. Their training and participation in domestic and international tournaments including the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will continue. The ministry has already passed the IGU’s annual calendar, so there will be no stoppage of golf activities.

In order to form an ad hoc committee or conduct elections, the ministry or the IOA has to move to the golf fraternity, but if it is indulging in infighting, issues getting resolved is highly unlikely.

Bhushan told Sports Longue, “We are serious about enforcing the Sports Code and holding elections, but parties with vested interest don’t want us to do it. They have filed court cases and don’t seem interested to get them resolved. There is also a talk of settlement out of court, but nothing has materialised yet.”

Hearings of as many as five cases against the IGU is pending in July. The IGU has spent hefty amount on fees of lawyers. The IGU has hired three law firms to fight their cases, and spent Rs. 77.21 lakh in legal fees till May 2019.

Legal battles, in practicality, aren’t going to help golf fraternity in the long run. If they keep fighting legal battles, the ad hoc committee will also find it difficult to hold fresh elections. The fraternity has to get issues resolved and come under the same page.

Golfers may not get affected by political wrangling, but the image of the sport will be tarnished, meaning the success stories of golfers from marginalised classes would fail to untie the ‘elite’ noose haunting the sport since the British Raj.

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