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Indian cricket displaced to South Africa, for better and for worse

Text by Navodita PANDEY , France 24 correspondent in New Delhi

Latest update : 2009-05-10

When their biggest cricketing event was moved out of India, fans, as well as the vendors who benefit from the event, received the equivalent of a slap in the face.

Imagine Arsenal playing against Manchester United in Sao Paulo, and the Gunnners being forced to watch their favourite team play, not in their hometown stadiums, but on television. Indian cricket fans met a similar fate when their biggest cricketing event was moved out of India.

 

In this cricket-obsessed nation, all cricket fans received a slap in the face when the Indian Premier League Season was shifted to South Africa. And so did the vendors who benefit from the event. “Last year, I earned around 600 euros during the six weeks of the IPL season, which is quite astonishing for a small vendor like me,” says a totally disheartened tea vendor, outside the Ferozshah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi. “But this year I completely lost the opportunity.”

 

After the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November, and the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in March in Pakistan, some players and officials voiced their fears about playing in India. The clash of dates with the Indian general elections forced the Indian Premier League organizers to shift the venue so that, now, from April 18th to May 24th, matches take place in South Africa.

 

“Whichever government comes to power wants to make it clear to the world that India is a safe place,” answers Sandeep Bamzai, Chief Operating Officer of the sports dedicated website Spotzpower. “If anything happens, the upcoming Commonwealth Games, to be held in India in 2010, will also be affected”.

 

Various businesses related to the game are suffering, among which the tourism industry, airlines, sports merchandisers. Hotels were expecting a 25 percent boost in occupancy and the government was hoping tourism would grow by 15 percent but they will now have to recalculate their projections.

 

"Overall, direct impact will be 2.3 to 3 million euros loss for hotels and airlines," says Ashwini Kakkar, Executive VC, Mercury Travels.

 

Sameer Kohli, a supplier of sportswear, suffered a 40 percent loss due to the sudden shift of venue. “We lost approximately 30,000 euros, as those who ordered merchandise backed out at the last moment,” he says.

 

Meanwhile, the big sponsors, the broadcasters and the Indian Premier League (IPL) itself are making huge profits. Shifting the tournaments to South Africa increased their incomes as fans have no choice but to watch the games on TV. IPL earned about 1.3 billion euros by selling broadcast rights and sponsorship deals. Lalit Modi, IPL’s Chairman and Commissioner confirms the positive impact, saying that all their franchisees and advertisers are enjoying the revenue.
 

Date created : 2009-05-10

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