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Indian Super League marred by 'Conflict of Interest'. Or is it?

Indian Super League marred by Conflict of Interest. Or is it?

Punit Tripathi

Published: 20 July 2018 3:25 PM GMT

Things were moving at the right pace.

New contracts with lesser complications were coming in, the tournament had got an Asian Football Confederation accreditation, and Kolkata’s legacy clubs were toiling hard to be part of the roster.

And then, the Indian Super League suffered a conflict of interest. According to Twitter, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), the managing company of the Indian Super League, has hired Asian Paints co-promoter Jalaj Ashwin Dani to take charge of the league ahead of its 2018-19 season.

His wife, Vita Dani, co-owns the Chennaiyin FC side with Abhishek Bachchan and cricketer MS Dhoni.

Chennaiyin have won the ISL title twice in four seasons.

They already have the best roster of young Indian footballers, bought from the AIFF Elite Academy on a regular basis. Will the club benefit from this move or not is debatable, but let’s see how conflicts of interest have rocked several Indian industries in recent past.

Conflict of Interest in Indian sports

The Curious Case of Chennai Super Kings The most famous dilemma that rocked India’s unofficial national sport, cricket, took place in 2013. The most consistent Indian Premier League franchise, the Chennai Super Kings, was owned by Gurunath Meiyappan, who was arrested for involvement in heavy betting and trading of inside information to bookies in 2013.

On October 8, 2013, Meiyappan’s father-in-law, Mr. N. Srinivasan took charge of the BCCI as President.

A 170-page report submitted by the retired High Court Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal-led committee also stated that Srinivasan's company, India Cements, was liable for Meiyappan's actions and that the Chennai Super Kings franchise was in violation of the franchise agreement and was thus banned.

On 27 November 2014 the Supreme Court said that N Srinivasan’s conflict of interest was “obvious” as he also owned a team i.e. CSK in the IPL. The court also asked BCCI if it was open to have a fresh poll for a new board without N Srinivasan. The man left, and Chennai Super Kings returned to the fold only recently after a two-year ban.

Pune's Football and Cricket clubs

Ganguly not involved with IPL Pune franchise: Sanjiv Goenka

There are other contexts in football as well, but in no case were two posts held at the same time by the people in discussion. Pune FC’s head of operations Chirag Tanna joined the sports division of Reliance Industries Limited, edging off a conflict of interest.

Another Pune team, this time Cricket and back to the Indian Premier League came under the scanner for potential conflict of interest. This time, it involved Kolkata-based business tycoon Sanjiv Goenka and former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly.

Besides being a member of the IPL governing council and the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), Ganguly is a co-owner of Atletico de Kolkata (ATK), which is part of the Kolkata Games and Sports Pvt. Ltd. which owns the ISL franchise. The other ATK co-owners are Ambuja Neotia Group chairman Harshavardhan Neotia, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group chairman Sanjiv Goenka and Utsav Parekh. But when Sanjiv Goenka bought the Pune franchise of the Indian Premier League (IPL), he felt compelled to clear matters up. He had stated then in a press conference that former India captain Sourav Ganguly would not be involved in "conflict of interest" as he is the co-owner of Indian Super League (ISL) football outfit Atletico de Kolkata. Ganguly, at that point, was also a member of the IPL governing council.
When Hockey India was accused of Conflict of Interest
Arun Jaitley had been accused of conflict of interest by the late KPS Gill There had been reports previously which alleged that Arun Jaitley had appointed his daughter Sonali as the counsel for Hockey India (HI) while he was a member of the advisory board of Hockey India League. The charges had been brought forth by banned Indian Hockey Federation president, the late KPS Gill. At that point, while the then President of Hockey India had admitted that SOnali had indeed held the position in question for a brief period of time, the suggestion that Arun Jaitley was anything but professional was preposterous. "The time that KPS Gill is talking about, we had a number of cases to fight. To be precise we had 22 cases to fight in that period in different places of the country, so we had to hire a lot of lawyers and lot of law firms. Jaitley and Bakshi firm was one of them. The money that went to them was hardly 2 per cent. So I don't know where the conflict of interest comes from," Batra
was quoted
as saying The scope of Conflict of Interest in Delhi Football

Shaji Prabhakaran, the current President of the Delhi Soccer Association, is also the President of Delhi United FC, but no undue benefits have been passed to the club that plays in the Delhi State Division.

A discussion online stated that Vita needs to sell her stake in the club to make sure things go right, but another participant suggested that it is not going to happen unless ‘someone files a case and there is a court order’.

Let this unfold, and we'll see who benefits at the end of the day.

Also read: Vita Dani: “We have enough talent but not the right platform”

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