Dubai: A top official of the Indian cricket board denied any knowledge of VIVO, the Chinese mobile phone manufacturers, pulling out as title-sponsors of Indian Premier League (IPL) even as media reports sent the IPL franchises on a panic mode on Tuesday.
Unconfirmed reports said VIVO has pulled out as the title sponsors for this year’s edition ‘‘following backlash on social media.’’
‘‘I am not exactly aware of the development as there had been a bereavement in my family. You can check about it with Brijesh Patel (the IPL chairman) or Hemang Amin (COO of IPL),’’ Arun Dhumal, treasurer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, told Gulf News. Dhumal was absent from the crucial Governing Council meeting on Sunday following which media reports said VIVO would continue as sponsors this season.
The IPL, meanwhile, had been facing a severe flak from certain quarters ever since it decided to retain VIVO as their title-sponsors, a deal which is worth to the tune of 220 million dirhams per season and runs till 2022.
A nationalist group threatened to call a boycott of the IPL, picking up a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment after a clash on the border between the neighbours’ armies in which 20 Indian soldiers died. The IPL said after the June 15 clash that it would review its sponsorship deal, though sources in the BCCI said it would have raised legal implications to abandon the relationship midway.
After repeatedly delaying the tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic, the IPL is eventually scheduled to start in the United Arab Emirates on September 19 but sparked anger by making no mention of changing the sponsorship.
The Confederation of All India Traders, which claims 70 million small business members, said the Indian government should block the IPL tournament for showing “utter disregard” to public anger over the border deaths.
Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), the cultural arm of the influential Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) threatened a boycott of the IPL unless the Chinese sponsor was dropped.
“We want to urge the IPL organisers to reconsider their stand on sponsorship by Chinese companies,” said an SJM statement.
“Please remember the nation’s pride and security above all,” it added.