Features include interactive map, in-depth stories, and more.Download now. »
The week's top five must-sees,
delivered to your inbox.
LinkAsia | Feb 8
The soccer world was rocked earlier this week by the announcement from Europol that an investigation has uncovered at least 680 cases of fixed socc...
And now, let's turn to India and the popular sport of cricket. A few years ago, the Indian Premier League exploded in popularity by using a shortened version of cricket that reduced the length of matches. While a traditional cricket match could last up to several days, an IPL match lasts only about three hours. However, the League's meteoric rise has recently hit a snag. Players have been accused of cheating, violence, and sexual assault. As our contributor, Ajoy Bose, explains, these allegations have thrown the league into disarray.
For cricket-mad Indians, the Indian Premier League was supposed to give a fresh lease of life to the old British gentleman's game. It has been transformed into a 21st century extravaganza by multi-billionaire industrialists, Bollywood stars and cavorting cheerleaders. But five years after being launched, the cricket circus appears to be collapsing under its own weight.
Indeed, sleaze rather than glitz has dominated the Premier League this year. First a television expose showed cricketers agreeing to accept bribes for deliberate bad play, called spot fixing. Then one of the team owners, the country's most famous movie star, Shah Rukh Khan, got into a drunken brawl with security guards at Mumbai's cricket stadium. He's been banned from the stadium for five years. What followed was even worse. An Australian cricketer was arrested on charges of molesting an American woman at an after-match party in a New Delhi five-star hotel. At yet another rave party, police temporarily detained two Premier League cricketers for suspected drug abuse.
Not surprisingly, the string of scandals has kept social media networks, like Twitter, buzzing. Net citizens are clearly outraged at India's favorite game being disfigured in this manner.
Yet social media itself has played a role in compounding the Indian Premier League controversy.
For instance one of the team owners, industrialist Sid Mallya, raised many hackles, particularly among women, for tweeting a defense of the cricketer charged with molestation. Mallya, who owns a cricketers team, lashed out at the woman who had leveled the charges with most inappropriate remarks about her character. Needless to say the tweet immediately became the subject of a fresh row and a legal suit.
The continuing furor has raised a question mark over the League's future.
Already several political leaders condemn Premier League-style cricket as "a vulgar display of money and immorality," which was "against Indian culture." Some, like opposition party leader Subramanian Swamy, demand a ban on IPL, and a Facebook campaign's supporting him. But opinion is divided about such an outright ban. While some favor it, others feel that the League also discovers fresh cricketing talent and provides good entertainment value and a way should be found conducting it with good governance.
Ultimately, whether the Indian Premier League survives or not, the pandemonium over the high-profile renovation of the country's most popular sport is yet another example of the problems of India growing up.
This is Ajoy Bose in New Delhi for LinkAsia.
The scandals, however, don't seem to be driving away fans. Attendance is actually up this year, and IPL matches still dominate TV ratings.