The Indian Olympic Association has demanded the removal of the cooling-off period and tenure limitations from the draft of the revised Sports Code circulated by the government.
Calling the restrictions imposed on politicians and their families as ‘discriminatory’ and ‘unfair,’ the IOA has proposed wide-ranging changes to several contentious issues in the draft National Sports Code for Good Governance (NSCGG) 2017 in its feedback submitted on Sunday. If accepted by the ministry, these proposals could benefit officials in several positions, including the Board of Control for Cricket in India as they too are likely to come under the ambit of the new code as per sports minister Kiren Rijiju.
The draft code, which ruffled more than a few feathers, had made several recommendations that could have far-reaching impact on sports administration in the country. The IOA, however, has cited international precedents and a few other loopholes while raising objections to some of the clauses.
Among the main suggestions the IOA has made relate to the tenures of board members and the cooling-off periods. It had been suggested in the sports code that an office-bearer can enjoy two consecutive terms of four years each before a cooling-off period of four year sets in.
The IOA has argued that it takes ‘years to build rapport and grow as a sports administrator to the national and international level.’ “In effect as per this Code, if a person during his first or second term in a local club/District sports organisation does not become office-bearer in the State Sports Association, National Sports Federation and International Federation, he/ she should completely quit service in sports administration for the next four years, and then start all over from the club/ District level after the cooling period,” it said in its feedback.
Stating that this ‘disruption’ would mean there would be ‘no or fewer’ Indian officials in Asian or International Federations, the IOA has proposed to ‘remove the limitation of cooling period’ altogether.
Further, the Olympic body has also suggested there should be ‘no limitation’ on the tenures of board members.
Coincidentally, as reported by The Indian Express on Sunday, relaxation of cooling-off periods for office-bearers is on the agenda of the BCCI’s Annual General Meeting that will be held in Mumbai on December 1.
As things stand, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly will have to go for a three-year cooling-off break in July next year, as he had been an office-bearer of the Cricket Association of Bengal for over five years.
The IOA has also suggested that the age limit for office-bearers be increased to 75, or brought in sync with the respective international federations.
Another point raised by the IOA, which could end up benefitting the BCCI should it come under the ambit of the sports code, is in relation to the involvement of ‘immediate relatives’ in a federation.
The NSCGG has proposed that during the tenure of an official, no ‘immediate relative’ can hold a position simultaneously. It also barred a relative from holding office during the official’s cooling-off period. This point was included to make sure officials don’t rule by proxies.
The IOA, however, has challenged it, saying there is “no law of the land to the best of our knowledge that restricts election or appointment to the Board of autonomous organisations based on an individual’s relationship.” Another key issue raised in the sports code that has been challenged by the IOA relates to disqualification of politicians and bureaucrats from holding office. The code recommends that no minister, MP, MLA or government official can be an office-bearer or board member of a federation.
The IOA has cited examples of politicians in China, Japan and South Korea playing crucial roles in sports administrations in their respective countries to challenge the point. “…It is not years of service after retirement but prime years of service of politicians and government officials that is required for the advancement of sports in India,” the IOA has argued.
Rijiju, too, had hinted that this point could be diluted when the new committee meets to redraft the sports code. Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange recently, he had also said that “once we come out with a proper refined sports code, everything will come under it, including cricket.”