India’s cricket chief defied calls to quit over a betting scandal that has blighted the country’s top domestic competition, despite his son-in-law being arrested over the scandal.
Narayanaswami Srinivasan agreed on Sunday to step aside to allow an investigation to take place, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced, but stopped short of tendering a permanent resignation.
Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested on May 24 for allegedly taking part in illegal betting on the multi-billion-dollar Indian Premier League (IPL), which is currently the subject of multiple police investigations.
Meiyappan is a business executive for the most successful IPL franchise, the Chennai Super Kings, which is owned by 68-year-old Srinivasan, who has also headed the BCCI since 2011.
“Mr. N Srinivasan announced that he will not discharge his duties as the president of the board till such time that the probe is completed,” said a statement after the meeting.
Srinivasan had called the board meeting following the resignation of two senior IPL officials.
BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale and treasurer Ajay Shirke and IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla quit in the wake of the
spot-fixing scandal in the cricket league, in which players stand accused of performing poorly on purpose.
The board said that Jagmohan Dalmiya, a controversial former president of the BCCI from 2001-2004, “will conduct the day-to-day affairs of the board” during Srinivasan’s absence, which will last until the investigation is brought to a close.
Srinivasan described his decision to step aside “an extraordinarily fair step”, saying the meeting was smooth and free from acrimony.
Dogged by allegations
The scandal in the money-spinning IPL, a Twenty20 tournament which sees top international stars play alongside domestic players, has again shaken the faith of fans in what is overwhelmingly India’s most popular sport.
The arrest of Srinivasan‘s son-in-law came after Test medium-fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two teammates in the IPL’s Rajasthan Royals, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, were taken into custody.
All the accused deny any wrongdoing.
Police allege the players deliberately bowled badly in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars after striking deals with bookmakers.
Meiyappan, who is still in custody, is being investigated for allegedly passing information to bookies and illegally placing bets on the IPL.
The IPL is the sport’s most lucrative league and has changed the landscape of world cricket with its mix of sport, Bollywood glamour, and American-style cheerleaders and television advertising breaks.
While it makes big money, the annual tournament has been dogged by allegations of corporate corruption, money-laundering and tax evasion, as well as secret deals to hide teams’ real owners.