As BCCI president Sourav Ganguly gears up to face some tough questions on the conflict of interest issues during the upcoming Annual General Meeting on December 24, lawyer Vidushpat Singhania has said that there is not much to worry about for the former India skipper.
Fingers are being pointed at the BCCI boss for his association with various brands who are direct competitors of the BCCI. Sourav Ganguly’s decision to sign up as the brand ambassador of Edtech startup Classplus which is direct competitor of Team India’s shirt sponsors Byju’s has raised a number of eyebrows. Recent reports have suggested that other administrators could ask Sourav Ganguly some tough questions regarding the issue during the AGM.
Recently, former Committee of Administrators (CoA) member Ramachundra Guha had slammed Sourav Ganguly for endorsing a cricket fantasy gaming app. But amidst all the allegations, lawyer Vidushpat Singhania has said he doesn’t see any conflict issue arising in the former cricketer’s associations outside of his role as the BCCI president.
“What is a conflict? A conflict is there because of a position in BCCi, either actual or maybe perceived, you are able to benefit commercially from the association. Suppose you’re holding a position in the BCCI and if you’re having an academy, you will be able to influence selection. That is considered as a conflict.
“Suppose you own an event management company and that has a contract with BCCI and you’re an office bearer, that is a conflict because, as an office bearer, you are influencing a decision to give certain advantage to a company.
“I don’t see a conflict here itself. Here, Sourav is endorsing a particular fantasy sports brand in an individual capacity. Official broadcaster of a BCCI will have a contract and in that you clear definite the exclusivity of a particular contract, what rights he is getting from that. Each right is paid for, nothing comes for free. If they have not negotiated exclusivity for a particular broast — say only Dream 11 ads will be showing during a particular broadcast, if that is not negotiated, then where is the conflict of interest coming in?
“Players have individual companies endorsing them. Suppose say, Nike is endorsing a particular player or Adidas is endorsing a particular player. If the BCCI endorses or takes sponsorship from a particular company, then that company will only get exclusivity for all events under the BCCI and not under players’ lives,” Singhania told India Today.
“If Sourav was endorsing MyCircle 11 in a BCCI event, then I agree, that could be a conflict of interest. And that is not allowed. And if he is not endorsing in a BCCI event and if he is endorsing in his own capacity, keep in mind he is a star, then how is that a conflict? I don’t even see it as a legal issue if it’s not written into a contract.
“Moral conflict? But the fact that we are recognising fantasy spots as a form of entertainment and legal, the fact that the BCCI is also allowing fantasy sports to advertise, the BCCI is okay with it, you have addressed the issue there.
“As I said, legally, I don’t see a conflict arising, morally, there is no conflict arising, so where is the issue really?” Singhania added.
This is not the first time Sourav Ganguly has found himself in such controversy. Earlier this year, he had to clarify his association with JSW Cements after “Conflict” issues were raised. Ganguly stepped down from the role of mentor of the JSW group co-owned Delhi Capitals before taking up the role of BCCI president.