Why sanctions won’t sting

The sports ministry has for long exercised the most effective tool in its armoury - keys to the government purse - to rein in erring National Sports Federations (NSFs). Early this month, the ministry de-recognised the Archery Federation of India (AAI) and put the Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) and Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on notice for not following its National Sports Code guidelines during their elections.

While the general perception is that once the ban is imposed and purse strings tightened, the federations will struggle to make up the monetary shortfall and to send teams abroad, things aren't that dire.

In reality, all that the NSFs need to do is to raise money for their age-group national tournaments because the government will continue to fund the expenses of Indian athletes for international tournaments.

The effect of the sanctions vary across federations. The Rowing Federation of India (RFI), unlike hockey, wrestling or boxing, doesn't command much corporate attention.

Considering that the chances for raising funds without government support is next to nothing, the RFI followed the government diktat and accordingly elected a new set of office-bearers.

Others, like the Judo Federation of India (JFI), require only amounts to the tune of Rs 12 to 15 lakh to organise their national age group tournaments. With politician Jagdish Tytler at the reins, raising this amount from sponsors will not be difficult. Even the IBF will not be terrified by their impending expulsion. Abhay Singh Chautala, the chief of the body, had earlier managed to rope in DLF and Unitech, supposed market rivals, as sponsors during the 2006 World Women Boxing Championships in Delhi. Currently Monnet Ispat is sponsoring the boxing team.

The power wielded by these administrators is one of the major reasons the government versus federation stand-off on the age and tenure guidelines will continue to drag on.

Vinayak is a principal correspondent based in New Delhi.


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