Committee of Administrators experiment leaving a lot to be desired
Are CoAs really the miracle cure that they are being made out to be?
When computerisation was beginning to make strides in India, the most popular technical advice for troubleshooting any problem was shutting down the machine and rebooting it. The basic idea behind the suggestion being that the machine will sort itself out after a forced shut down.
Sports in India is showing a similar growth potential if the inherent administrative issues are sorted out at the earliest. And whatever the problem may be, the primary solution according to the Supreme Court and High Courts Judges, irrespective of the issue, seems to be shutting down the incumbent system and appointing a Committee of Administrators comprising of retired judges, former Government officers and a token player representative to initiate a reboot.
The Court’s have appointed a Committee of Administrator/Administrator in three federations in the last few weeks and take that number to four if you go back a month.
The All India Football Federation had the President overstaying beyond his tenure, the Judo Federation is hampered by factionalism. The case of the Table Tennis Federation in the Delhi High Court was primarily about the chief national coach asking a player to fix a match while the Hockey India’s issue was former president Narinder Batra using his “illegal” Life President position to become the Indian Olympic Association president.
But the solution for them all was the same — the appointment of administrators with the federations bearing the cost of their remuneration.
And none of these amounts are mere token payments. The annual remuneration of TTFI administrators is likely to be higher than the total prize money distributed to the players in a year while the Judo federation may have to cough up ₹2 lakh per month as the Administrator’s salary.
In fact, retired Supreme Court Judge Anil R Dave and former chief election commissioner Dr S Y Quraishi have been appointed as Administrators for both AIFF and Hockey India.
It’s worth noting that majority of the sports administrators are still holding honorary posts and are not paid for their work.
The primary argument of those who support the appointment of CoA is that the current sports administrators may be honorary but have been promoting nepotism, corruption and also misusing their power.
But a quick look at the functioning of the Committee of Administrators in the past have exposed similar problems. The tussle for supremacy among BCCI’s CoA members led to delay in many important decisions and the way they handled the selection of men’s and women’s team coaches also raised a lot of questions.
Even Ramchandra Guha, while resigning from the Committee, mentioned how ‘superstar power’ was allowed to fester even by CoA.
Former Indian women’s captain and only cricketer on the committee, Diana Edulji’s decision to make chances to the policy for granting one-time ex-gratia to women’s international players so as to include her sister Behroze was officially flagged by the BCCI treasurer.
Not just that, like most of the previous and current BCCI office bearers, some of the CoA members planned their personal tours around the official meetings to get free air tickets and one of the members even went to the India-Pakistan World Cup match at Old Trafford after the CoA cleared a seven-day trip for him and other association officials.
The court-appointed Administrator of Delhi District Cricket Association, Vikramjit Sen, was embroiled in a conflict of interest complain after he appointed his daughter Mrinalini as one of the legal advisor and even sent her for BCCI events as his representative.
While these desecrations found space in the media, Qureshi’s “unilateral” decision to amend the constitution of the Archery Association of India was struck down by the Supreme Court and he was relieved from the position.
Despite that, he has been appointed as administrator to look after the day-to-day affairs of AIFF and Hockey India, two federations that need dedicated individuals to run the show.
What is more surprising is that the Courts, who have been constantly insisting on the need for sportspersons running sports federations, have appointed retired judges and government officials to run NSFs they are putting under administrators.
Most of these administrators clueless about the needs of the sport and hence end up giving a free hand to star players and a handful of coaches they think are important.
The TTFI CoA went to another extreme when they made a retired decathlete, who was part of the CoA as well, chairman of the selection committee and a former badminton player it’s observer. The team selected by the new committee has already been embroiled in controversy with one of the reserve players, Diya Chitale, moving court against her exclusion and then finding a place in the team.
The Delhi High Court has now also ordered the Sports Ministry to not pay any money to NSFs which do not follow the National Sports Code. It is worth mentioning here that none of the sports federations get any substantial amount of funding from the Centre government, which spends bulk of the money directly on camps and players.
Also, none of the provisions of the Sports Code are applicable at the state and district level as Sports is a State Subject according to the Indian Constitution and hence any changes at the top would be nothing more than cosmetic.
Importantly, the CoA experiment in BCCI has proved that no tangible change was achieved in the functioning of the association despite the committee holding the reigns for over two years.
In IT terms, the reboot via the CoA did nothing to remove the bad sectors in the system but also ended adding new errors due to the lack of understanding of the actual problems.
(The writer is a veteran sports journalist and an author. Views expressed are his own.)