The much-delayed National Sports Development Code could finally see the light of the day in the upcoming Monsoon session and national federations should not expect anything from the government if they fail to comply, Sports Minister Vijay Goel has warned. Goel said the Ministry has also held discussions with various stakeholders on including Sport in the Concurrent list.
The ministry will present the matter before the Cabinet for approval once it gets the feedback from all concerned. Speaking on a range of issues during an interaction with PTI journalists, Goel said he personally does not see any harm in letting politicians run National Sports Federations (NSFs).
To review the Sports Code, the government has constituted a committee which is expected to give its final report soon, paving the way for its legislation in the July Monsoon session. “When the IOA made two charge-sheeted people Life Presidents, we immediately swung into action and suspended the IOA. We respect the autonomy of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), IOA and other Federations but we also want transparency and accountability,” Goel said.
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“We want all Federations to follow the Sports Code and if they cannot, they should not expect anything from us. We work like Patrons. To fix their accountability, we have constituted a Sports Code review committee,” Goel said. Asked specifically about when the Code is expected to become a law, Goel said,” We can easily present it in the upcoming Parliament session.”
Goel made it clear that not many changes are required in the already-framed Code. “The Sports Code, if implemented in its present form, is more than enough. Ninety per cent Federations are following it and others will have to fall in line. We have resolved the disputes in the Associations of karate, boxing, tennis and now we have set sights on archery and basketball. These will also be resolved soon,” he said.
The age and tenure of the office-bearers and eligibility of voters in the elections of the Federations are two major issues addressed by the Sports Code. The proposed Code calls for one state one vote for all NSFs whereas in various associations such as the All India Tennis Association (AITA), a few states have more than one votes.
Recently, the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee had ruled that no minister or a serving bureaucrat be allowed to hold office in the BCCI. Similar provisions are being advocated for other sports as well. “It is my personal view that if a minister cannot devote time towards sports administration and remains outside, it is understandable but Federations cannot be run just by the players.
“There are administrative, PR and other things for which other people are required. We have to see what is the character of the individual,” he said. “I will not see if he is bureaucrat or not. I will not talk about ministers, because maybe there is time constraint for them. I don’t believe that politicians should not be there,” he added.
Goel also said that government cannot be kept outside when it comes to important decisions such as bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan. Responding to a question on whether sports can be free of politics, he said, “All funds are given by the government. It’s a democratic government. If an MP is doing something, he is doing so as a people’s representative.”
Talking about the inclusion of sports in the concurrent list, Goel said the Ministry is awaiting a response from various stakeholders. “I had a meeting with the Dronacharya awardees, the Arjuna awardees, Olympic medallists. Then we had a (state) Sports Ministers’ meeting, PSUs meeting, Federations’ meeting and decided that sport will be taken to concurrent list.
“The status is that we are awaiting comments from all stakeholders. As soon we get it, it will be given to the Cabinet.”