Pepsi wanting to end its IPL sponsorship should prod BCCI to clean up its act
For brands, the Indian Premier League (IPL) was once hot property. Now, Pepsi, title sponsor of the annual cricket jamboree, wants to drop it like a hot potato. The many IPL scams, allegedly involving former and present office-bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the beverage giant feels, has brought “disrepute” to the game; thus, the company is keen on terminating its association with the league. It is not the first time in professional sports that a major sponsor (or sponsors) stepped up pressure on corrupt sports administrators. The world football body, FIFA, banned president Sepp Blatter for 90 days a week after four major sponsors called for his removal, prompted by sordid tales of graft. There is, of course, no denying that the sheer commercial and financial power of the sponsors nudged FIFA down the right path. As the number of vocal advocates of clean sports grows among viewers and fans, brands have also sought to put themselves on the right side—thus, Blatter had it coming.
Sponsors like Pepsi gave BCCI the financial muscle—the IPL is indeed its cash cow—to lord over international cricket. Pepsi alone severing ties could hurt the BCCI bad; so, if the beverage company’s decision were to inspire more sponsors to follow suit, the cricket board indeed has no choice but to clean out its stables. The exit of a globally renowned brand, apart from the loss of financial backbone, would also mean a complete loss of credibility for the board. Fans, meanwhile, can only hope that BCCI, under new president Shashank Manohar, draws the right lessons, and in time.