Less than two weeks before the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League is to start, the Union sports ministry has asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India to explain why United Arab Emirates have been chosen as a venue for IPL 2014. Sharjah, which was banned by India after match-fixing scandal broke in 2000, is one of the three venues that will host the first leg of the IPL from April 16. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the other venues.
In a letter addressed to Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI's Chief Administrative Officer, on Friday, the sports ministry has asked the Board to explain as to "why a non-regular venue has been selected for holding some matches of IPL-2014 instead of choosing a venue which is on the regular international calendar of the ICC."
The IPL Governing Council chose UAE as a venue after shortlisting South Africa, which hosted the tournament in 2009 when the general elections clashed with the cash-rich T20 league. The BCCI had the option of playing matches in Bangladesh but finally picked UAE this year. The first leg of the tournament will be played in UAE from April 16 to April 30, before the tournament moves to India from May 2. The final will be played in Mumbai on June 1.
The sports ministry said: "It has no objection from sports angle for conducting IPL at no-cost-to-government subject to clearance from Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs." The sports ministry has directed the BCCI to approach MEA and MHA directly for obtaining their clearances.
Given Sharjah's tainted history with bookies and match-fixing, the sports ministry said the "responsibility to deal with betting and match-fixing during IPL-2014 will rest with BCCI."
The ministry has asked BCCI to explain what mechanisms it has put in place to check betting and math-fixing during the tournament. IPL 2013 was marred by corruption and the Supreme Court is currently hearing the scam. The apex court has suspended BCCI president N. Srinivasan because his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan has been indicted for betting and sharing team information.
The ministry has questioned the BCCI on the amount of license fees paid to the International Cricket Council for IPL. It has directed the Board to contribute a share of its profits from IPL towards the National Sports Development Fund.