Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The BCCI's "Operation Clean Up": Governance not Cheerleaders

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced a 12-point plan to address the fixing scandal that threatens the Indian Premier League. First, some background courtesy of the WSJ:
Shoving a towel into their waistbands, fiddling with a necklace, untucking their shirts; these are signals that investigators allege three Indian cricketers used to communicate with bookmakers across India in an attempt to fix parts of matches for illicit financial gain.

Delhi Police said Thursday they had arrested three players from the Rajasthan Royals cricket franchise for allegedly spot-fixing—trying to arrange a predetermined outcome in certain key moments—in the Indian Premier League. The league is a hugely popular annual tournament involving many of the best cricketers from

Spot fixing in cricket occurs when a player deliberately rigs part of the game, for example by bowling a poor delivery from which a batsman can easily score runs. Several high-profile international convictions have tarnished the sport in recent years, which resulted in fines, player bans and even jail time.
The scandal has already led the head of the BCCI, which oversees cricket in India, to step aside. The BCCI 12-point plan is a further response to the scandal.

The 12-point plan is as follows:
1. Removal of sleaze; no cheerleaders, no after-match parties for players and support staff.
2. Strict code of conduct to be followed by players, support staff and franchise owners.
3. Restriction of movement in players’ dug-out and dressing room. The owners from now on will be restricted from entering the dug-out and dressing room during matches.
4. All players and support staff of franchises need to furnish their telephone numbers with the BCCI before the start of the tournament.
5. Adequate number of ACSU officials in the team hotel as well as the ground to supervise the proceedings.
6. Jamming of cell phone towers at the ground during matches.
7. Captains’ meeting to be held in order to get more suggestions and prepare elaborate blueprint.
8. No national selector will be allowed to get associated with any franchise in any capacity.
9. All the players need to disclose every financial transaction they are carrying out with any particular organisation or person.
10. Franchises need to furnish all details of the remunerations and contractual obligations of players and support staff.
11. Players from now on will be prohibited from using ear plugs and microphones.
12. Security control policy will be formulated soon.
These proposals range from the farcical (no cheerleaders as a way of addressing fixing?!) and the just plain dumb ((jamming of cell phone towers?) to the profoundly innovative (player disclosure of financial transactions). Journalists, professors (me included) and politicians routinely have to disclose remuneration which falls outside of their professional contracts. Why not athletes?  In the US the NFL has already adopted a similar set of policies.

Reform is likely going to have to go deeper. In a 2011 submission to an inquiry on governance of the International Cricket Council, Transparency International made recommendations for the harmonization of governance standards across ICC member federations. These were as follows:
30. The ICC should require, as a condition of membership, that domestic boards have in place codes of conduct and procedures that reflect the global best practice that TI recommends ICC itself puts into place.

This would include:

• Tone from the top and ethical leadership
• Code of ethical conduct covering all relevant areas including conflicts of interest
• Risk assessment
• Best-practice policies and procedures and their independent monitoring and review
• Creation of an Anti-corruption Tribunal at domestic level to hold individuals and organisations to account, if existing anti-corruption mechanisms are inadequate.

31. All of the above would need to be underpinned by greater transparency and independence, with the ICC having oversight of each domestic board’s adherence to these requirements. The ICC should be able to review whether domestic boards are adhering to these codes of conduct and procedures, and should have strong sanctions, including financial sanctions, available to it if member countries’ boards or federations are judged to have infringed the rules. For example, ICC should be empowered to exclude a member nation from competing in international matches if fails to adopt and enforce an approved Anti-Corruption Code in its own jurisdiction.

32. This will undoubtedly represent a significant change in the governance of world cricket, and inertia or vested interests may cause there to be opposition. However, TI considers it vital that if a message of zero tolerance for corruption is going to be taken seriously, the managers, administrators and leaders of the game operate to the highest standards of ethics and integrity.
As with FIFA and its various scandals, effective reform will necessarily result from the adoption of standards of good governance and best practices which have been developed in contexts outside of sport. So far, FIFA has been resistant. Perhaps the BCCI and ICC can do better. To do so, however, it is probably best to focus on the governance, not the cheerleaders. 


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