CHENNAI, India, May 9 (Reuters) - India’s sports minister is concerned an Indian Premier League (IPL) mobile phone-based contest amounts to gambling and could give rise to a fresh bout of corruption in the game.
Organisers of the Twenty/20 event have introduced an SMS contest aiming at keeping interest in India alive. The league has been moved to South Africa as the dates clash with the country’s general elections.
Some experts have raised serious misgivings about the contest, in which participants have to predict the sequence of runs that will be scored in the subsequent over, saying that it amounts to gambling, which is illegal in India.
“Cricket is part of the family of sports in our country. Its current riches do not set it apart from other games,” Sports Minister Manohar Singh Gill said in a strongly worded statement on Saturday.
Gill said the contest was viewed as “openly encouraging gambling and betting”.
“We have already had .... a match-fixing scandal in the game,” he said, referring to a scandal that broke in India and rocked the international game in 2000.
“It seems the ICC (International Cricket Council) had expressed concerns about such possibilities in the IPL league.”
The IPL, promoted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and featuring some of the top players from world cricket, has been a huge commercial success.
Gill said it was the duty of the BCCI to protect the future of the game.
“I would suggest to the BCCI to always bear in mind that as the richest and most powerful sports body today they have a larger responsibility to discharge,” Gill said.
“They should bear in mind that today’s commercially successful venture may not be so in five years time and the game has to be protected for future generations.
“Modify the structure by all means but after grave and serious consideration of the larger ethical and moral questions and the long-term interest of the game.” (Reporting by Sanjay Rajan; Editing by Peter Rutherford. To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)