Ahead of the third and final encounter between India and Bangladesh, newly-elected BCCI President Sourav Ganguly left cricket enthusiasts perplexed by promoting 'Fantasy Cricket League - My11Circle', an online fantasy competition which he endorses. The former India skipper in a tweet spoke about the ongoing T20I series between India and Bangladesh and asked fans to 'beat his team' on My11Circle to receive monetary prizes.
"The #INDvsBAN series is on fire! The excitement continues in the 3rd match with series leveled. Will #TeamIndia keep up the winning streak or will Bangladesh bounce back? Beat my team on @My11Cirlce & Win Big. Make Your Team Now!," Ganguly tweeted on Friday.
His tweet raised several eyebrows as many hinted that considering the position Ganguly holds, such inadvertent promotion falls under the ambit of conflict of interest.
Meanwhile, ambush marketing is another issue that crops up because Dream XI, a rival company of the brand promoted by Ganguly, currently has a four-year contract with BCCI as the official partner for the Indian Premier League (IPL).
What is Fantasy Cricket League?
Both the companies mentioned above are fantasy competitions that allow users to choose their own Playing XIs before a match and win cash prizes based on the performances of the individuals picked by them. The leagues are divided into several categories and the prize money depends on the nature of the contest.
What significance might Ganguly's fantasy team selection have?
The fact that Ganguly is the current BCCI President and he is announcing his playing XI to engage fans is problematic because of the influence this might have on players and national selectors, not to mention fans. For example, Rishabh Pant, who is presently receiving heavy flak from fans for his displays both with the bat and the gloves, would be under even more pressure if the BCCI President prefers Bangladesh wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim over him in 'his XI'.
What can be done in a conflict of interest situation?
The conflict of interest issue is currently before the Supreme Court for reconsideration. In the meantime, any specific allegation in this regard can be sent to the ethics officer, who will pass his judgment on the merit.
Conflict of interest case against Ganguly
Ganguly was entangled in a conflict of interest case earlier this year during the twelfth edition of IPL. Three cricket fans hailing from Bengal pointed out that apart from his duty as Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) President, the former India skipper was rendering his services to IPL franchise Delhi Capitals and was also part of the elite Cricket Advisory Committee.
Later in September, ethics officer DK Jain said Ganguly's case violated the conflict of interest clause and the 47-year-old was directed to relinquish his services and continue in not more than one position.
Ganguly on conflict on interest
On the day Ganguly filed his nomination papers at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai, the former cricketer stated that conflict of interest is an issue that needs to be looked into.
“Conflict is an issue whether you will actually get the best cricketers in the system. You are not too sure as they will have other options and because if they come into this system and not get to do something which is their livelihood, then it gets difficult to be part of the system. It needs to be looked into,” Ganguly told reporters outside the BCCI headquarters.
Earlier in August this year, an infuriated Ganguly stated: "God help Indian cricket." Supporting his former teammate, Rahul Dravid, when a notice was issued against him from the BCCI ethics officer on conflict of interest allegations made by Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association member Sanjay Gupta. The complainee had dragged the former U-19 coach into the controversy for his role as the director at National Cricket Academy (NCA) and vice-president of India Cements Group, which owns IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings.
Ganguly had then tweeted: "New fashion in indian cricket .....conflict of interest ....Best way to remain in news ...god help indian cricket ......Dravid Gets Conflict of Interest Notice from BCCI Ethics Officer."
Over the past year, former Indian cricketers - Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly, and VVS Laxman have all been served up with conflict of interest notices by the BCCI Ethics Officer.