Patriot Act, the web television series hosted by the popular American comedian Hassan Minhaj, has been making waves ever since the show’s premiere episode was released in October 2018. The latest episode, titled “Cricket Corruption”, focused on an issue that needed to be highlighted in lieu of the upcoming Cricket World Cup in England and Wales.
Minhaj talks about the initial scandals of the IPL that led to eight charges of corruption, money laundering and fraud against the original owner of the enterprise, Lalit Modi. Modi’s initial scandalous dealings set up the stage for the BCCI to take over international cricket because the high amount of revenues generated in the first three years of the IPL (about $4 billion) lead to the league quickly became the most lucrative enterprise in the world of cricket.
In the years following the rise of the IPL, the enterprise saw investments from big-name Bollywood actors Shahrukh Khan, Preity Zinta and the worlds thirty-eighth richest man, the Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani. This manifestation of wealth led to a massive amount of sponsorship and screening deals. This, in turn, led to the India cricket board (BCCI) becoming more powerful than the International Cricket Council and by 2014 the BCCI partnered up with the Australian and England cricket board to set up the “Big Three” financial model within the ICC.
The model was initially opposed by the global cricketing community, but pressure from the BCCI forced the ICC to accept this model in what can be described as a mafia-ish maneuver by the BCCI. The implementation of this model meant that the revenues from all future ICC tournaments would be split up in an uneven manner, with the big three cricket boards receiving a significantly larger share than the rest of the member countries. Due to this, the BCCI earned upwards of 30% of the revenue from all ICC tournaments held after 2014.
The BCCI was also caught in match-fixing and bid-rigging for franchise auctions in the IPL. The Indian Supreme Court even took notice and arguments for the board to be recast as a public agency in order to ensure better transparency started circling in the Indian media in 2018. Meanwhile, the continued preferential treatment of its own cricketing interests by the BCCI over the global cricketing community’s interest led to the organization becoming the most profitable cricket board in the world.
Continuing in their bullish ways, the BCCI forced the ICC to reduce the amount of participants in the tournaments in order to give more matches and hence more screen time to the Indian cricket team. This meant that advertisement agencies in India also made bigger revenues than their competitors in other countries. This clearly shows that the BCCI did not care much for the inclusivity of the global community in the sport and instead only wants to focus on making profits for itself. With impoverished countries such as Afghanistan and Nepal coming into the sport, the BCCI’s actions could deter such future entries and as a result could cause the sport to become extremely exclusive. This combined with the BCCI’s bullish ways could lead to the demise of a sport that was once considered a ‘gentlemen’s game’.