Kings XI Punjab co-owner Ness Wadia on Tuesday called for a gradual end to inviting Chinese sponsorship in the Indian Premier League amid escalating tensions between the two countries after the faceoff in eastern Ladakh earlier this month.
Calls for boycotting Chinese products have intensified after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the Galwan Valley clash on June 15. The incident prompted the BCCI to call a meeting of the IPL Governing Council to review Chinese sponsorships but that meeting is yet to take place. On Monday, India banned 59 Chinese apps.
“We should do it [sever ties with Chinese sponsors in IPL] for the sake of the nation,” Wadia told PTI.
“Country comes first, money is secondary. And it is the Indian Premier League, not the Chinese Premier League. It should lead by example and show the way.”
The industrialist added: “Yes, it would be difficult to find sponsors initially but I am sure there are enough Indian sponsors who can replace them. We must have all the respect for the nation, our government and most importantly for the soldiers, who risk their lives for us.”
Chinese mobile phone maker Vivo is IPL’s title sponsor and it pays the Board of Control for Cricket in India Rs 440 crore annually for the five-year deal ending in 2022.
Other companies involved in the IPL – Paytm, Swiggy, Dream 11 – also have Chinese investments. The franchises too, attract Chinese sponsorship.
Other teams, including three-time champions Chennai Super Kings, said they will be happy to go with what the government decides.
“It will be tough to replace them [the sponsors] initially but if it has to be done for the sake of the nation, we will,” a CSK official was quoted as saying.
Another team owner told PTI: “Let the government decide first, whatever they decide, we will follow”.
However, Wadia said it was not right to await government’s directive. He added: “It is our moral responsibility to stand with the nation at this hour. If I was the BCCI president, I would say ‘find me an Indian sponsor for the upcoming season.’
“Indian companies need to step up and see the same benefits and opportunities that Chinese companies have seen in the IPL, which is the best T20 league in the world. The teams too should be given time to replace their Chinese sponsors. As I said, there are enough Indian companies which can replace them.”