Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: Sports and Games

Dow Row

Dow is a sponsor of London Olympics. Some people want India to boycott London Olympics if Dow continues to be the sponsor because Dow bought Union Carbide which was responsible for Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984. IOC has said Dow is not responsible for Bhopal gas tragedy and Dow sponsorship for Olympics will continue till 2020.

India has not boycotted Olympics any time. In 1980 USA and many countries boycotted Moscow Olympics. In 1984 USSR and some countries boycotted Los Angeles Olympics. In 1976, 22 African countries boycotted Montreal Olympics.

In 1974 India refused to play South Africa in Davis Cup final due to South Africa’s apartheid policy. In 1986 India boycotted Commonwealth Games in UK because UK had refused to put sanctions against South Africa. In 1974 Italy had refused to play South Africa in Davis Cup semi-final. In 1986 Nigeria, Kenya and many other countries had boycotted Commonwealth Games.

If India boycotts London Olympics due to Dow sponsorship it is likely to be alone. In 2008 India won one gold medal and two bronze medals in Beijing Olympics. India’s participation or absence will not make much difference to London Olympics. Besides, India will have to boycott Olympics in 2016 and 2020.

The victims of Bhopal gas tragedy should have been left to pursue cases of compensation in American courts where the compensation amounts could have been higher. The victims did not have to pay the lawyers if they did not win the cases and if they won they had to pay a percentage of compensation amounts as fees. The Government of India bungled by taking up all cases and clubbed them together and they were fought in India. Then the Supreme Court should have left the cases to proceed. Instead in February 1989 it got into arbitration and fixed the compensation amount at 470 million dollars and all civil and criminal liabilities were waived off. Those who did not want arbitration kept quiet after the emotional outburst of the CJI. The compensation should have been to victims alone but all residents of Bhopal got compensation thus diluting the claim of victims.

It is a different matter that after some years criminal liabilities were brought back and some Union Carbide officials were prosecuted and found guilty. That raises the question of finality of Supreme Court judgment. If liabilities waived off by Supreme Court are restored after some years where is the certainty of the closure?

There is a question of genuineness of protests on 3/12/2011. Some leaders had used a manual and a video to train protesters. The training was for over a month.

Sports Minister Ajay Maken has written to IOA to take up the matter of Dow sponsorship with IOC. There is no love lost between Ajay Maken and IOA. IOA derives its powers from IOC and has used it to fight against the government.

Milkha Singh and some other people want Indian athletes to participate in London Olympics. Boycott means many athletes will miss the chance of a lifetime to participate in Olympics and win a medal. If Bhopal victims did not get justice it is not entirely due to Union Carbide.

Calcutta Semi Final 1996

Vinod Kambli on 17/11/2011 claimed that Cricket World Cup semi-final in Calcutta in 1996 could have been fixed. The team had decided to bat first if it won toss as in quarter-final against Pakistan it had batted first and won the match. Mohammed Azharuddin had won the toss. Navjot Singh Sidhu had padded up. Mohammed Azharuddin elected to field. Vinod Kambli was stunned. Sri Lanka batted first. India batting second went from 98/1 to 120/8 and there was crowd trouble. Match referee Clive Lloyd stopped the play and awarded the match to Sri Lanka. Vinod Kambli was in tears. Sri Lanka went to final and won the World Cup. India could have won the World Cup. He said he was made a scapegoat, shunned by team members and his career was over.

Mohammed Azharuddin contradicted Vinod Kambli. He said the decision to field first was a team decision and Vinod Kambli was perhaps sleeping when the decision was taken. In a previous match Sri Lanka had batted second and had defeated India. He said Vinod Kambli has no character, uneducated and uncouth. Sourav Ganguly suggested Mohammed Azharuddin should sue Vinod Kambli as whispers go around. Sanjay Manjrekar backed Mohammed Azharuddin. Ajit Wadekar who was manager said he and Navjot Singh Sidhu wanted to bat first but to field first was a team decision.

Some have questioned Vinod Kambli’s motive and timing. What was he doing for 15 years? He played ODIs after that and his last ODI was in 2000. Some said he was frustrated and desperate for attention.

There has been talk that Indians were told to lose the match to avoid playing in Pakistan. Some years later Mohammed Azharuddin was found guilty of match-fixing and banned for life. Ajay Jadeja was banned for five years. Two other cricketers were banned for some years.

Vinod Kambli’s statement came after Paul Condon, former head of ICC’s anti-corruption unit, said every international team in 1990s fixed games and spot-fixing began in World Cup 2003 in South Africa. He blamed proliferation of spot-fixing partly on popularity of Twenty20 cricket.

It does not matter Vinod Kambli did not speak for 15 years. He played in the match. The matter needs to be investigated. Mohammed Azharuddin is Congress MP. Navjot Singh Sidhu is BJP MP. Sachin Tendulkar continues to play. All cricketers in the Indian team at the time must be questioned.

Death of Peter Roebuck

Peter Roebuck, cricket writer and commentator, died on 12/11/2011. Officially his death is a suicide. He was questioned about sexual assault at 9 p.m. At 9.15 p.m. he jumped to death from his sixth floor window.

There is reason to suspect foul play. The death came after Cape Town Test which had inexplicable batting collapses on 10/11/2011, second day of the Test. For the second time in Test history four Innings were played on a single day, two in full and two in part. Most of the wickets fell after lunch and before tea. Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis were ruled not out by field umpire and on DRS appeal out by third umpire. Mark Boucher was ruled out by field umpire and on DRS appeal there was no reversal. It is possible that the Test was fixed and Peter Roebuck knew about it. His death could be a murder. On 17/3/2007 Pakistan lost to Ireland and next day Pakistan’s Coach Robert Andrew Woolmer was dead. He was once coach of South Africa.

It is necessary to investigate betting on Cape Town Test. Who were the bookies? What were the odds on Australia winning, South Africa winning and draw? What were the odds on scores by teams and individuals? What were the odds on wickets by bowlers? What were the odds on the Test getting over by the third day? Who gained and who lost and how much by betting on the outcomes? We need to know the answers.

The death also comes in the backdrop of three Pakistani cricketers serving sentences for spot-fixing, two in jail and one in detention centre. If Peter Roebuck had exposed spot-fixing it could have been jail for all involved.

It is easy to target a whistleblower with a sex crime as happened in the case of Julian Assange. Peter Roebuck is not alive to give his version about the accusation of sexual assault. Truth about Peter Roebuck must come out.

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