‘IPL has demolished its prestige and the whole exercise is totally commercial’

The Former BCCI president, A.C. Muthiah, believes the spot-fixing scandal is just the “tip of the iceberg.” He was at the helm in 2000 when the BCCI took strong action against cricketers found to be involved in match-fixing.

The 72-year-old Muthiah, whose ‘conflict of interest’ case against BCCI president N. Srinivasan is pending before the Supreme Court, spoke candidly to The Hindu on Friday.

What are your views on the challenges confronting the BCCI following the spot-fixing scandal? What’s your take on the IPL itself?

This is such a pathetic situation to be in for the Board. The IPL has demolished the prestige of the Board. The whole exercise is totally commercial. The Board’s reputation is on the ground. The president should own up responsibility and step down. Because of the situation the president finds himself in, he is not able to take hard decisions when it comes to the IPL. Now, his son-in-law’s alleged involvement in a wrongdoing makes the situation worse for him. He is not able to act aggressively. It’s sad.

Do you think spot-fixing, which can eventually influence the outcome of a match, is restricted to a handful of cricketers?

I think many more players and officials could be involved. The franchise cannot escape responsibility either. They are responsible for the players and officials.

You have been critical of the IPL becoming a part of the BCCI. Haven’t you?

The IPL should never have been a part of the BCCI, and the rules should not have been amended in the first place for one man. In fact, I wrote two letters to Sharad Pawar about this when he was the Board president. The entire focus here is on money-making. The IPL should be detached from the BCCI. And the mess following the fall-out of the spot-fixing episode should be cleaned up.

You were the BCCI president when you acted strongly against cricketers found to be involved in match-fixing. There were several high-profile names including that of a former Indian captain, is that not right?

I tried my bit. We took stern action. From all over the country I got messages congratulating me on the tough decision taken by the BCCI. India was the only country that took such robust action. It’s unfortunate that the BCCI, subsequently, did not pursue those cases strong enough.

Was there any pressure on you during that phase?

There was a lot of political pressure, I must admit. But I took the stand in the interest of the game.

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