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Millions to Olympic medalists, withholding Women's prize money: The double standards of BCCI

On August 07, when India won its first Gold Medal at Tokyo Olympics 2020 courtesy of Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, BCCI Honorary Secretary Jay Shah announced cash prizes worth Rs four crores to seven of the Indian Olympic medalists. 

The move was commendable as being the richest sports governing body in the country, BCCI should help and reward players of other sports as well to boost their morale and for the overall development of the sports culture in the country. 

However, as soon as one starts comparing the gesture that the BCCI offered to the athletes with the treatment it has meted out to players, who are dependent on it for their livelihood, it shows nothing but their double standards and reduces the gesture to mere opportunism.

Ignorance of Women's cricket by BCCI

During the pandemic that engulfed the world last year, BCCI was able to hold all its important events for the Men's game such as the Indian Premier League, Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy. But for the Women's, it could muster only one tournament, the senior One Day trophy, and that too during April 2021, when the preparation was in full swing to host the second IPL within a year. 

In both the seasons when the IPL was held, the Indian Women’s Cricket challenge, which again is nothing but a tokenism tournament of three teams for Indian Women’s players, was not organised by the BCCI. Straight two seasons, no T20 tournament for India’s women cricketers in the reign of the richest sports body in the country! Yes, that’s the hypocrisy of the board which seeks opportunism in rewarding Olympic athletes but punishes its own players on gender bias. 

During the same time, England, New Zealand and Australia held their women T20 leagues and England have gone on to establish Women’s Hundred which runs parallel to the Men’s tournament and has the same prize for the Women's as Men's. 

The World Cup prize money issue

In May 2021, UK’ Telegraph reported that the BCCI had not paid the Indian Women’s team prize money that it had won after finishing runner’s up in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 held in March 2020 in Australia. 

The prize money worth Rs. 4 crores had been withheld by the board since November 2020 (BCCI claimed it got the money from International Cricket Council in November, although England and Australia Women’s team were paid their due by May 2020 itself) in the name of fighting a tax lawsuit with ICC. 

This was the lamest possible excuse, as had the money been released earlier too, the tax rebates could have been compensated later. Due to this obnoxious and authoritative attitude of the Board, 16 players, part of the Indian squad were devoid of their Rs 25 lakhs each during times as bad as a pandemic. 

The Board, after all the humiliation in the public for sitting on players’ prize money, agreed that it did withhold the money and that it would be releasing the same soon. 

The central contract issue

On May 19, the BCCI announced a new Central Contract for women’s players. As the new names were announced, four names from the previous contracts list failed to make the cut. The previous contract had ended in September 2020 and for the good part of nine months since the Indian Women’s players were without a central contract. 

Now, those players who got onto the contract list in May 2021 would still be paid for those nine months on backdating pro-rata basis. However, there was no clue about the implication of it on players such as Veda Krishnamurthy, Ekta Bisht, Anuja Patil and D Hemalatha, who were not awarded the central contracts.

Ideally, the contracts should have been renewed by October 2020 itself as that’s how the system works. But since it wasn’t, there could be no fault of the four women if they couldn’t pick up anything else in the hopes of getting their contracts renewed, which did not happen ultimately. Now, who would compensate for those lost times and money? BCCI has no answers to it. 

Domestic Players' payment issue

The domestic players who played the Ranji Trophy and other domestic tournaments including the age group tournaments such as U-23 and U-19 tournaments during the 2019-20 season, are and yet to be paid their match fees. The BCCI announced compensation for around 700 players for the 2020-21 season which was marred by the pandemic, but that payment hasn't been made either. 

The BCCI blamed State Associations instead of owning the responsibility. 

Prem Singh Dhumal, the Treasurer of BCCI admitted to non-payment as well but said that it was hard to disburse payments. “We have to discuss with states because they have to tell us who would have played, how many matches, who would have been in reserves. None of the states has sent any proposal for the compensation package,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. 

The State Associations argue that they don’t know how to send a list of players as it is hard to predict who would have played the matches and who would have been in reserves. But is it that hard? Couldn’t there just be one cumulative list where all players are paid equal money, which lies in between match and reserve fees? The solutions are easy, the hard thing is people trying to find them. 

It is easy for office bearers to ignore the problems but for players who are dependent on that money from match fees only, even for their day to day expenses and are part of poor state associations like Bihar,  how would they survive? Indian Express reported one such story early this year. Click here to read the story


BCCI may give as much reward as it pleases, but clearing the dues of its players and treating Women’s players with equal respect is something that should be on priority.

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