Free Press Journal

It’s Difficult to keep a sport 100% clean: Charu Sharma  


Pro Kabaddi LeagueMumbai: Kabaddi team captains unveiling the Pro Kabaddi League trophy during a press conference in Mumbai on Thursday. PTI Photo by Mitesh Bhuvad (PTI7_16_2015_000148B) *** Local Caption ***

It’s been a couple of days since the Justice RM Lodha panel delivered its verdict banning two Indian Premier League teams on charges of misconduct and corruption, but the Managing Director of the upcoming Pro Kabaddi League 2015, Charu Sharma, believes it’s difficult to keep a sport clean.

The former CEO of IPL franchisee Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) spoke exclusively to the Free Press Journal during the launch of the second edition the kabaddi league, which kicked off with much fanfare in a glittering ceremony in the city on Thursday.

When asked about what steps were being taken to keep the upcoming kabaddi league corruption-free, the veteran sports commentator said that no sport can be kept 100 per cent clean of corruption.

“We are making a conscious effort and have formulated rules to avoid any such situation. We have had many camps regarding this. There is a committee to look into it if any such incidence crops up.

“But the fact is, how do you govern an adult every second of his life.

“We have trained and embedded in players’ minds that one small act can bring everything down. The captains as well as new players have been very well-nurtured in this respect,” Sharma said.

“We can see what’s happening in other sports, so we can try to keep this sport corruption-free. Though these guys look rough and tough, they are quite humble and down to earth.

“Even NADA (National Anti-Doping Agency) is heavily involved in keeping the sport free of doping.” Regarding changes in the rules, Sharma said there has been slight tweaking but nothing major has been done.

“It’s a mature sport, we don’t have to tweak it much. The only major change is that we have raised the squad limit to 25 players from 16 this year. That will take care of any injuries, so that a team gets to play the fittest possible team. “We also have increased the number of overseas players from a maximum of three to four in each team.

“Other minor changes are that there will be one time-out per team per half. We will also be allowing the team coach to speak to the team during the match, where he gets a 20-second window to speak to the team.

“The thing is, we had tweaked the rules a lot in the first year to suit a television audience. We don’t want to keep fiddling with it. When it’s not broke, why fix it? We want to make sure we continue to showcase the athletic side of the sport,” Sharma said.

Sharma stressed that he is not much interested in the statistical side of the sport.

“I am happy that pride and respect has returned to the game. Statistically speaking, we cannot predict anything. There are a lot of factors involved. But I don’t fuss about it much,” he said. The league will get underway on July 18, when Mumbai take on Jaipur in the opener.