A request from tech giant Apple for 20 hospitality passes to attend an India-Australia T20 match this month has resulted in BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary launching a scathing attack on the board’s stand-in president C K Khanna. Citing Khanna’s refusal to sanction some of these passes from the president’s quota for the match in Hyderabad on October 13, Choudhary sent an email to the BCCI chief accusing him of neglecting important board issues because his “favourite subject has consistently been passes for international matches and even IPL games”. The T20 match eventually could not be held due to rain.
In his mail, Choudhary wrote: “Recently, the undersigned (Choudhary) and you received an email from a BCCI official for allotting 20 hospitality passes for the Hyderabad India-Australia T20 game (eventually washed out) for Apple. Considering the brand profile of the company and potential future partnership with BCCI, I immediately suggested 10 from Hon Secy’s quota and another 10 from President’s quota could be allotted. You declined it and so I allotted all 20 from Hon Secy’s quota.”
Choudhary further wrote that BCCI officials shouldn’t use their quota of passes as “personal favours to friends, relatives and most voters, but whatever would serve the Board’s interests best”. Justifying the hospitality extended to Apple, Choudhary wrote, “I had thought that it was worthwhile from the BCCI’s point of view to send passes to Apple on their request.”
Apple refused to comment on the issue. But BCCI sources told The Indian Express that the passes were for a group of senior Apple executives from the US and Hyderabad. Incidentally, Apple CEO Tim Cook had watched an IPL match between Gujarat Lions and Kolkata Knight Riders along with BCCI official Rajeev Shukla at the Green Park stadium in Kanpur last year.
In his mail, Choudhary further accused Khanna of remaining silent on the implementation of the Lodha Committee’s recommendations to reform the game’s governance. He also wrote that he had “never once” received any communication from the president on “various national tournaments, currently underway, in the face of unseasonal but persistent rains in various parts of the country, issues relating to numerous tax litigations, negotiations with Kochi Tuskers, issues that Pakistan has tried to raise and so on”.
Khanna declined to respond to queries from The Indian Express. But sources close to the Delhi-based administrator said that he was “right in refusing hospitality to Apple” because of the BCCI’s links to other mobile phone manufacturers. “The BCCI has Oppo and Vivo as title sponsors, so if Khanna refused passes to their competitors, he was doing the right thing,” said sources.
Oppo Mobiles recently won the sponsorship rights for the Indian cricket team for a period of five years for a record figure of Rs 1,079.29 crore while Vivo retained the IPL title sponsorship rights for five years for Rs 2,199 crore.